Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua

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Consultation prior to notification

Protect Rotorua Meeting - 27 October 2015

Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff and councillors met with members of Protect Rotorua on Tuesday 27th October at Distinction Hotel. 

Proposed Lake Rotorua Nutrient Rules Update - This presentation was shown at the meeting to provide an update to attendees about the consultation undertaken by Regional Council with landowners affected by the proposed rules this year as well as the process moving forward.

Quick summary of engagement process to date:

Stage One - June – October 2014

  • Extensive mail out and media campaign
  • 7 public meetings & drop in days
  • 2 Maori land owner drop in days
  • 3 hui and 29 meetings
  • 6,090 website visits (July- Oct 2014) 68% first time

Stage One - Meetings

Deer Farmers, TALT, Real Estate, Property Managers (Rural Professionals), RL Community Board, Dairy sector, Dry stock sector, small block owners (150+ attendees), Collective, Grow Rotorua, Kaitiaki Kiwi and others

Stage Two - July- September 2015

  • Drop in days x 2 (50+ attended)
  • 4,429 website hits (July- Sept)
  • Contacted all Te Arawa Iwi authorities
  • Calls to 18 deer farmers

Agreed Protect Rotorua engagement

  • Phone calls – over 70 people (Protect Rotorua)
  • Site visits and further discussion (50 people)
  • Calls to 18 deer farmers separately
  • Written responses
  • Members also attended drop-in days

 

There is still time for talk

We heard what you have to say and have made some changes to the Nitrogen rules. Please note that these are still under development and we hope to formally notify the public of these rules once an economic impact report has been completed.

Any property owners within the Rotorua catchment who wish to receive information directly from the Council may do so by emailing their preferred contact details to rules@boprc.govt.nz

 

What changes have been made? – December 2014

Changes have been made to the proposed rules in light of the feedback received from the community.

Feedback on rules to manage nitrogen loss in the Lake Rotorua catchment - The purpose of this paper was to present feedback from the community as well as recommended changes to council on the proposed Lake Rotorua rules to reduce nitrogen.

“This is what you have told us so far” – December 2014

Lake Rotorua Proposed Nitrogen Rules Consultation Report - This report summarises the consultation process and all feedback received on the proposed rules to manage nitrogen loss in the Lake Rotorua catchment.

“This is what you have told us so far” – September 2014

We are now close to completing the consultation period on the proposed rules. We have continued to receive valuable and constructive feedback from the community about the proposed rules through emails, telephone conversations, meetings and feedback forms.

We have held additional consultation meetings with lifestyle block owners to discuss the implications of the proposal as well as met with different sectors, organisations or companies managing or representing owners large blocks of land. 

Visits to the website (www.rotorualakes.co.nz) have increased since consultation started mid-July with over 4,500 visitors so far. The proposed rule information is currently the most popular page on the website with over 1,400 views to date. There has also been media interest in the proposal, including an article in the NZ Herald as well as local media highlighting the engagement process.

The majority of feedback has come from rural landowners on blocks between 2 and 40 hectares, with drystock continuing to be the main sector represented. In addition, there has been a rise in feedback from the “Other” sector, including sheep, native bush, local businesses and horses. This is likely to be a result of the additional meetings held throughout September for lifestyle block owners.

Whilst there are a number of different issues concerning people, there are some central matters that have dominated the feedback including:

  • Many lifestyle block owners were concerned that the proposed rules and the need for a consent to farm would mean their blocks would become uneconomic, such as through promoting understocking. It was suggested this would have a potentially devastating effect on the value of land blocks and detrimentally impact on property prices.
  • Some respondents felt that the proposed process places an unfair burden on rural landowners without ensuring other activities play their part in reducing N inputs to the lakes.
  • Many people believed that the proposed rules were not fair and reasonable to all landowners. For example, 20% will have a huge impact on drystock farms compared to 30% on a dairy, and as drystock have much less nutrients flowing through the system it is much harder to find reductions.
  • There should be allowances for individual management (such as those landowners already not using fertilisers) and individual targets rather than a blanket approach.
  • One of the concerns voiced has been about the splitting of below and above 2 ha properties. It was felt that under the rules a less than 2 ha property could potentially stock at greater rates that an above 2 ha property, reducing the effectiveness of the intent of the rules.
  • It was considered that the proposed rules for smaller blocks are far too complicated and need streamlining and the cost to be decreased. For example, it was felt that the consent process for a small landowner could be financially non-viable forcing them to accept the 10kg/ha rule instead which may be counterproductive.

Alternatives suggested have included:

  • The benchmark should be across a whole farm and not just selected effective areas
  • Split up the property sizes more, such as 2-10 ha to be treated separately from 11-20 ha
  • Calculate rates for different land use/stock separately
  • Use land use capability instead
  • Promote nitrogen absorbing plantings
  • Use a voting process for choosing the options instead
  • Use a single fixed pastoral average (so that low N discharges would not be subsiding high N dischargers)
  • Purchase and retire land in the major contributing catchments, such as what has been done in Taupo

Submitters sought more information about:

  • The costs, timeframes, processes and information needed to get consents and what the ongoing compliance costs will be
  • Data on appropriate stocking rates
  • Specific figures for landowners on their land size and example of what stock levels would be allowed.
  • Information about how leased blocks need to be managed and the responsibility of the block owner versus the farmer
  • Information on how the proposed rules are expected to impact on the wider economy

“This is what you have told us so far” - August 2014

We are now about half way through the consultation period on the rules. We have had some good attendance at the open sessions, and have appreciated people’s constructive questions and debate about the proposed rules. We have also received comments from emails, meetings, feedback forms and telephone conversations. 

Meetings have been held with representative bodies of different sectors as well as organisations or companies managing or representing owners large blocks of land. 

The majority of feedback forms received to date are from the drystock/other sector with properties between 2 and 40 hectares. Lifestyle block owners within this category have highlighted a need for special consultation as they do not have a representative body. In response, a series of additional meetings have been scheduled throughout September.

There are a few key matters that have emerged so far. The following provides a snap shot of some of these:

  • The majority of respondents consider the proposed consenting method is a reasonable approach, but have reservations related to the process and what it means to landowners
  • There is equal support for including or not including a short term consent for farmers who do not want to make planned, progressive nitrogen reductions
  • Questions raised over the “catchment boundaries” in terms of movement of groundwater away from Rotorua Lakes
  • Concerns about the certainty of the Overseer model and what will happen with version changes – is it certain enough to impose rules?
  • Some think a sector approach to allocation is unfair for a range of reasons. Alternative approaches to allocation have been suggested.
  • The proposals for smaller blocks are far too complicated.
  • The current Nitrogen Discharge Allowance (NDA) approach does not recognise pre-2001 mitigation and it should.
  • Timeframe is unrealistic – allow for incremental change by farmers
  • Consent term – 20 year is not long enough, 35 is needed for certainty of investments
  • Specific questions about stocking rates – such as will a property that applies no fertiliser be allocated the same stocking rates as one who does?
  • More technical support required, such as immediate support service for nutrient assessments and advice on reducing the NDA
  • Respondents would like to see how nitrogen is allocated to other activities, such as sewerage treatment and urban industrial discharge