First winter grazing consent granted
Environment Southland has granted its first intensive winter grazing consent under the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. This consent was granted with a suite of conditions to ensure the best outcomes for water quality.
Environment Southland acting consents manager Bruce Halligan says the applicant was planning ahead and getting in early, despite the national rules for winter grazing being deferred until May 2022.
“We’ve had three consent applications in specifically for intensive winter grazing. It’s great to see farmers looking at their practices and the rules that apply and preparing for the future.”
The council was focused on working with the rural community to understand and support good decisions around winter grazing practices as intensive winter grazing can have a significant impact on Southland’s water quality if not done well. Winter grazing practices have again come under intense public scrutiny, but monitoring is showing significant improvements are continuing to be made.
“To support farmers making decisions for cultivation and winter grazing next year, we have developed a series of online tools,” Mr Halligan says.
“Carefully planning how and where you winter graze your stock is important and the online map pulls in a range of data to help farmers make those important decisions for next season.”
The Environment Southland website now features a cultivation and intensive winter grazing mapping tool; a checklist to see whether resource consent is required; and an online resource consent application process.
“The map tool allows farmers and landowners to easily identify the optimum paddock for their intensive winter grazing activities.”
The map links seamlessly through to the regulatory requirements of intensive winter grazing, which identify whether a consent is needed.
“Getting a resource consent application in now will ensure farmers are well prepared to meet the new rules requirements when they take legal effect in May 2022 and will provide more certainty for future farm management and planning.”
Intensive winter grazing has not required resource consent until the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan was notified in 2016. Within the proposed plan, and now within the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, the activity continues to be permitted providing farmers can meet a list of criteria. If the criteria cannot be met, then a resource consent is required.
To try out the tools, go to www.es.govt.nz/intensive-winter-grazing
The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater were introduced in August 2020. Rules for winter grazing were due to take effect from May 2021 but were deferred for a year after Environment Minister David Parker accepted advice from the Southland Advisory Group to pause the implementation while the more challenging aspects of the rules were looked at more closely.