Consenting and Intensive Winter Grazing


 Key consenting Information

 The South's First Winter Grazing Consent (Courtesy of Dairy News)

Key Consenting Information (published July 2021)

When do people need to get consent, is it May or October 2022? 

Regulation 26 has been deferred, so there is no need for a consent under the NES for  this season (unless it is new or expanded IWG). People could be encouraged to develop, or update their winter grazing plan and to operative at or above GMP. The Minister’s have signaled that there will be changes to the permitted criteria for IWG in the NESFW. People may have existing use rights next season ( so they have 6 months from the new date in the regulation to apply for consent), so they may not need to apply for a consent for the 2022 season (the situation that applied this season with existing use rights, will apply again next year). However, individual Councils may have rules relating to IG/IWG that need to be complied with.

When can the IWG module be certified and prevent the need for a consent? 

MPI has developed an IWG module to support the uptake of good management practices. The module includes a IWG farm plan template for those farmers who do not already have a plan through an industry/catchment group or established Council system. The intent is that these IWG farm plan modules will be incorporated into the freshwater farm plans which are expected to be introduced in the first half of 2022. 

A discussion document has been released on Freshwater farm plans. Once these farm plans are available, people will be able to use these as a mechanism to not get consent for certain activities such as IWG and be able to get them certified.  

What is the Regional Sector doing? 

An audit was completed on the information held by the regional sector on IWG. This report made some recommendations of work that could be completed. One of the recommendations for the whole sector related to gaining a better understanding of the scope and spatial extent of IWG. Some Councils have this information already, but not for this season. In the past this work has been completed through using aerial imagery and then identifying areas of IWG. Whether this project can be completed at a national scale is being investigated.  

An update report on behalf of the Sector to the Minister on work completed to date is being prepared.

What about plans for next season? 

The Minister’s have signaled that there may  be changes to the permitted criteria for IWG in the NESFW. People will likely have existing use rights next season, so they may not need to apply for a consent for the winter 2022 season. The general advice provided to people for next season should include: plan to operate at GMP or above; have an IWG plan and keep the existing permitted criteria in mind when making plans.  However, individual Councils may have rules relating to IG/IWG that need to be complied with. The Government will shortly be asking for feedback on proposed changes to the winter grazing rules.

The South's First Winter Grazing Consent

Courtesy of Dairy News (Jessica Marshall 18 August 2021)

Environment Southland has granted its first winter grazing consent under the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. The consent was granted to Dairy Holdings Limited with a series of conditions to ensure the best outcomes for water quality.

Dairy Holdings chief executive Colin Glass says there were a number of reasons to get the consent process dealt with early. “It was important to get ahead,” Glass told Dairy News, due to the fact that Dairy Holdings has a number of farms. “We know that this gives our operation a degree of certainty for the future.

"We were taking one for the team,” he says regarding being the first.“We pushed back along the way on certain things,” but he thinks that both Dairy Holdings and Environment Southland got everything they needed out of the process. “My best advice is to embrace that change is happening, get in early and don’t leave it till the last minute.” Environment Southland acting consents manager Bruce Halligan says Glass was planning ahead and getting in early, in spite of the deferral of new national rules until 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 says it is focused on working with the rural community to understand and support good decisions around winter grazing practices because intensive winter grazing can have a significant impact on Southland’s water quality if not done well. “To support farmers making decisions for cultivation and winter grazing next year, we have developed a series of online tools,” Halligan says.

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,” says Halligan.

“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.”

Previously, intensive winter grazing has not required resource consent. However, the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater state the activity is permitted if farmers can meet a list of criteria. If the criteria cannot be met, a resource consent will be required.

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