We provide resource management support and advice in relation to a range of Dairy related issues.
- Water Permits for Irrigation
- Farm Dairy Effluent
- Farm Environmental Management Plan
- River Protection Works
- River Diversions
- Water takes
- Wintering and Stand Off Pads
As farming practices intensify and the summers appear to be getting warmer and drier, it is becoming necessary for some farmers to consider irrigation either through K-Lines or Centre Pivots.
Due to the increase in demand for water for irrigation, it is becoming increasingly important to demonstrate to Council that there is sufficient water available for what you are proposing to do. This requires input from expert professionals including hydrogeologists and hydrologists. It is important that this process is managed effectively to ensure any money you spend is providing value.
This process needs to be initiated at the same time as your are discussing your Irrigation System with your supplier. As you don’t want to invest in a system that you cannot operate due to lack of consent.
We can expedite the consent process for you by engaging the relevant technical expertise and providing high quality resource consent applications that will reduce the risk of time consuming further information requests being generated from Council.
We realise time is money and any delays result in increased expense for you and your operation.
What happens if you don't get a Resource Consent?
Without a consent you will be unable extract water at the rate likely to be required to get the best out of your system.
Given the increased attention the dairy industry has been subject to from lobby groups and environmentalists, it has become more important to ensure that your Farm Dairy Effluent is managed to comply with either regional rules or resource consent conditions.
It is also important that compliance is maintained with rules and conditions to ensure a clean record with Council and to avoid a High Risk Classification and increased frequencies of visits.
If the council has identified your farm or mine as being high risk, it is likely that you will receive increased attention through compliance visits and monitoring. You may be considering high risk for a number of reasons, including historical non-compliance, being located in a sensitive area or being the subject of a large amount of complaints or enquiries.
In order to demonstrate that your farm or mine is not high risk an environmental management plan and regular internal reporting can be demonstrated to council and they may reconsider their classification.
In cases where Farm Dairy Effluent is not managed appropriately, farm owners, managers and staff can be open to spot fines (Infringement Notices), a notice of direction (Abatement Notice) or prosecution under the Resource Management Act (1991).
One of the first things potential buyers look at when assessing a purchase of a property is the status and operation of the Effluent Management System. Being able to demonstrate ongoing compliance and easy use can easily add to the potential sale price of your farm.
If you are thinking of selling your farm, one of the first things any serious buyer will do is due diligence. This will include an assessment of your effluent management system and any resource consents associated with your farm. This will likely be done through the real estate agent and a request for confirmation of compliance with effluent management practices through the local regional council.
If you can provide an accurate assessment and demonstrate a history of compliance with local rules and existing resource consents you may stand out from other properties that require work or are seen as high risk in relation to resource consent compliance.
What can happen if you don't manage your Farm Dairy Effluent appropriately?
Should the worst happen and the Council identifies a non compliant discharge from your farm you could be exposed to enforcement action. This may include:
- Abatement Notice (Notice to stop an action or undertake work to comply)
- Infringement Notice (like a speeding ticket but more expensive).
- Prosecution (Environment Court proceedings and time to dust of the suit and tie).
An Abatement Notice is effectively a formal direction from Council asking you to stop doing something or requiring you to do something that will improve environmental outcomes.
Examples of Abatement Notices include:
- You must cease and not undertake the discharge of partially treated farm dairy effluent where it does not comply with the conditions of Resource Consent XXXXX.
- You must undertake improvement works necessary to bring the farm dairy effluent system at (Farm Location) to a point where the discharge complies with the conditions of Resource Consent XXXXX
An Infringement Notice is issued by Council when they have determined that an offence has been committed against the Resource Management Act. This may include a breach of a resource consent condition or an unauthorised discharge of contaminants to land or water.
Fines range from $300 - $1000.
Multiple notices can be issued for one event which can include breaches of Abatement Notices described previously.
If you are issued with an Abatement Notice or Infringement Notice it is important to deal with the cause quickly and effectively to ensure Council is satisfied you will comply with any notice or rules and regulations.
We can help you develop your Effluent Management System
We can help you with the ongoing monitoring of your Effluent System to ensure it is operating effectively before Council inspections occur. Should a non-compliance be detected by Council, we can help you minimise the risk of further action by Council or reduce the seriousness of the issue in some instances.
If you are notified of a non compliance by the local Council it is important that you acknowledge this issue and act quickly to rectify the issue. Any actions taken should be communicated to Council along with expected timelines for resolution. A re-inspection will likely be undertaken by Council staff to confirm that remedial actions have been completed.
In all but the most serious of cases, swift remedial action will reduce the likelihood of further action from Council staff.
It is important that any non compliance is dealt with quickly and effectively to show issues are taken seriously. It is also important to engage the appropriate legal representation at the right time to effectively deal with any issues associated with potential prosecutions.
Some Councils are now looking to avoid the Environment Court processes through ‘Restorative Justice’ or ‘Alternative Justice’ processes and it is important to be aware where these processes are available to you.
Effluent management systems are designed through an assessment of your farming operation and how this fits in with local rules. In some instances you may be able to irrigate Farm Dairy Effluent to land under Permitted Activity rules (no consent required). However, in other instances you will need a Certified Effluent System Design approved by Council.
Our initial assessment will involve a review of local rules, then an On Farm Assessment including cow numbers, shed & yard size, wash down rates, existing infrastructure and in conjunction with you an appropriate system will be designed.
We can help with the complete range of options and through professional partners can ensure you have a "fit for purpose" Effluent System.
We also have a relationship with a Certified Effluent Management contractor and can provide project management services to any upgrades you are planning on undertaking.
We will develop a Farm Environmental Management Plan that is specific to your farming operation and local rules, regulations and your resource consent conditions. This can be used to demonstrate to local councils how seriously you are taking your environmental responsibilities, how you maintain your effluent system and to what level you train your farm workers in environmental responsibility.
Most plans are developed in response to some form of enforcement action or threat of action from the council to demonstrate compliance or how compliance will be achieved and issues rectified in the future.
By developing a Farm Environmental Management Plan before you are at risk of enforcement action will help you avoid this situation in the first place. This is especially true if you leave a lot of the day to day management of your farm to employees or sharemilkers.
It can be used to form part of a sharemilking contract or be used as a performance measure for your employees. It can also be used as a template for daily or weekly farm meetings.
In the worst cases the Farm Environmental Management Plan can be submitted to the Environment Court in defence of any action that Council may initiate.
Why is a Farm Environmental Management Plan important?
A Farm Environmental Management Plan allows you to demonstrate a day to day effort to adhere to consent conditions and other environmental responsibilities. You can also use this to demonstrate a history of compliance should you be the target of complaints or investigation by council staff.
By developing a Farm Environmental Management Plan you can actively demonstrate efforts to comply with site specific rules and regulations. It can provide absentee or corporate farmers with a template for staff instruction and require reporting to ensure that all aspects of resource consents are considered during the daily operation of farms when owners or investors are not present.
This reduces the risk of the family business or investment becoming subject of enforcement action or prosecution from council in the worst cases.
Most farms will have water ways including creeks, stream and rivers nearby. Local experience has shown that as farming operations develop it is necessary to relocate these waterways to improve farming efficiency or increase your milking platform.
It may also be necessary for you to protect your investment from natural processes including flooding and erosion. This is typically done through River Protection Works, including stop banks, armouring of banks with rocks, gravel extraction and bed grooming.
If flooding and erosion is left to occur without any mitigation works it can have a disastrous effect on your farming operation as significant amounts of pasture can be lost overnight.
In some cases river protection can be completed under permitted activity rules, in others it may be necessary for consent to be gained.
Rivers are very changeable systems and can alter course after significant flood events. These alterations can have significant impacts on farming operations and property values. You may want to consider a diversion of a river or other waterway to alleviate flooding or erosion on your property.
River diversions typically require approval from the Department of Conservation and Fish & Game. There are certain times of year where it is best to avoid work in river beds and streams due to sport fish spawning and whitebait spawning.
Get in touch to see what best fits your needs.