Friday, December 8, 2023

Environment Court hearings for PC1 get underway

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Court to hear appeals against ‘decisions version’ of plan.
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The Environment Court hearing for the Waikato Regional Council’s Plan Change 1 has begun.

The hearing is to decide on the appeals submitted from various farmer, environmental, local government and iwi groups on the “decisions version” of PC1 that was released in April 2020.

The hearing is set down for six weeks, starting in Auckland for the first week before shifting to Hamilton for the majority of the time and then moving back to Auckland during the first week of December. 

It will be presided over by Judge David Kirkpatrick.

PC1 was designed to set rules for agricultural land use in the Waikato and Waipā catchments.

According to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s website, BLNZ is sharing legal representation with Federated Farmers through the process and the two are aligned on the key issues affecting Waikato sheep and beef farmers. 

Both groups are advocating for provisions to be practical and workable for farmers.

BLNZ and Federated Farmers are looking to defend the decisions version of PC1 by ensuring that a permitted activity pathway is secured for extensive sheep and beef farms through minimum farm standards and farm plans.

PC1 would require those farming activities of a certain intensity to obtain resource consent, with farm plans remaining the fundamental tool to manage contaminants. 

Another key issue for the two groups is the minimum farm standards and stock exclusion provisions outlined in the plan change.

“We are proposing to make these more workable for farmers and opposing those parties who are proposing more stringent standards such as larger setbacks for stock exclusion.”

BLNZ and Federated Farmers are also seeking as much alignment as possible between Freshwater Farm Plans and the farm planning schedule in PC1 to avoid unnecessary duplication, uncertainty and cost to farmers.

Freshwater Farm Plans have been activated in some parts of Waikato, including the Waipā catchment. The rest of Waikato has various activation dates from January 2024.  

The intention is that farmers will be required to complete only one farm plan to meet the obligations of both the Freshwater Farm Plan and PC1. 

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