A farm near Gore is the first to receive consents under Environment Southland's new dairy conversion rule.
The rule, Rule 16C in the Southland Regional Water Plan, came into effect in April and makes the change of land use to dairying a discretionary activity which requires consent.
New applications require a farm management plan, which includes a soil assessment, a nutrient management plan and a winter grazing plan.
The council's consents committee yesterday granted Peter Blackmore's application for a dairy conversion in Lawrence Rd, Waitane.
The land was previously forestry plantation and had more recently been stocked with cattle, the committee report says.
Councillor Jan Riddell said this was the first consent under the new rule, and it was extremely important the council got the consent conditions right.
The rule was introduced because of the water quality issues in Southland, particularly the cumulative effects of land use, she said.
''I was quite surprised to see no resource consent condition requires water quality sampling prior to the stocking of the property...if we can't establish links before and after with water quality it defeats the whole purpose of having that rule,'' she said.
Cr Grant Hubber said he took Cr Riddell's point, but the monitoring carried out as part of the consent would give an indication of whether the water quality had increased or decreased since the start of the operation.
Cr Riddell said there still needed to be a baseline to reference and it could be tied in with the State of the Environment reporting.
Opus resource management planner Sarah Hamilton, who spoke on behalf of the applicant, was concerned the farmer would have to pay for additional monitoring for the council's SOE reports.
Consents manager John Engel said there had been a lot of discussion around the consent conditions with policy and planning staff, and development of the rule.
A fixed monitoring site would be discussed with council staff and the applicant, which would be monitored at least once a year as part of the land use consent, and would provide separate monitoring information to that of the other consents.
The sample could be taken during other monitoring visits.
The committee agreed it was a well put together application, and were told by environmental management director Warren Tuckey that council staff had been ''absolutely impressed with the environmental ethics of the applicants and their efforts to do things right''.
Cr Marion Miller asked if the application had been an ''onerous'' process, and Mr Blackmore said there had been a lot of work involved.
They always did their homework when making decisions and this was part of it, he said.
Mr Blackmore's father and brother were also at the meeting.
Mr Blackmore applied for land use consent for a new dairy farm, land use consent for an effluent storage pond, a discharge permit to discharge farm dairy effluent to land, and a water permit to abstract groundwater.
The consent was for 765 cows and 273 ha of land.
The committee granted the water permit and discharge permit for a period of ten years, the land use effluent storage consent for two years, and the dairy conversion consent for an unlimited time.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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