22 Sep 2014

Hinds Plains water, land use change

1:50 pm on 22 September 2014

Canterbury Regional Council will be notifying the latest changes in its land and water plan this coming weekend.

Variation 2, as it is known, covers the Hinds-Hekeao Plains catchment, one of the region's red zones where water resources have been over-allocated and are now under threat from increased nitrogen levels.

Canterbury Regional Council is to notify about land and  water use changes.

Canterbury Regional Council is to notify about land and water use changes. Photo: PHOTO NZ

It is based on recommendations from the Ashburton Zone Committee, one of 10 community groups that are now part of the planning process for water management in Canterbury.

Environment Canterbury Commissioner Peter Skelton said Variation 2 is the result of several years consultation.

It is proposing new rules for nutrient and effluent management and grazing on farms in the Hinds catchment, which has been one of the most productive areas of Canterbury.

"In the Hinds case there will be a catchment-based nutrient nitrogen level provided for in that plan - so region-wide rules will no longer apply to that catchment," he said.

"This catchment is a water-short catchment and it's also a red zone in terms of nitrogen, so we've got to deal with it, in other words its over-allocated in that sense and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management requires us to address those matters.

"Everybody has got to develop good management practice and over-time high leaching activities are going to have to reduce their leaching significantly," Mr Skeltern said.

He said the timeframes for that are set out in the plan.

Submissions on the water management changes proposed for the Hinds catchment close on 24 October.

But the rules have immediate legal effect from the date of notification (27 September) under the Resource Management Act.

Meanwhile, Environment Canterbury has signed off its third farm environmental plan template, a move it said will help farmers to reach good management practice.

The template was developed by the Rangitata Diversion Race Management company, along with three irrigation schemes it operates, supplying water to 450 farms in mid-Canterbury.