ORC flyover finds most landowners compliant

Compliance checks have shown most landowners are doing the right thing in Otago, but work will be needed in order to comply with new rules.

The Otago Regional Council required few follow-ups after a compliance flyover carried out over two days in July showed generally good practice in the region this winter.

The council conducts annual flyovers to monitor the effects of land use on Otago streams, waterways and wetlands from the skies.

Regulatory general manager Richard Saunders said the results were encouraging, but there was room for improvement concerning some farms’ winter grazing practices.

Staff identified nine properties to follow up on the ground, having issues related to mobilised sediment and, in some cases, a lack of effective measures to keep sediment from entering nearby waterways.

“Our compliance team saw positive changes from the air, and generally good compliance with our current Water Plan rules, which is fantastic,’’ he said.

But a lot of the winter grazing practices that were permitted this season would not be permitted in 2021 or would require a resource consent.

The new National Environmental Standards would tighten restrictions concerning intensive winter grazing in future.

Farmers would need a resource consent from the council to graze stock on forage crops in winter if they could not comply with a list of criteria.

“These rules will impact a lot of Otago farmers, and they impact the council as the consenting authority,’’ Mr Saunders said.

"We’re keen to work alongside farmers, organisations and catchment groups to help interpret and understand the rules, and to give practical advice for complying with them.”


 

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