On Monday 6 July the Environmental Protection Agency publicly notified the following plan changes:
- Plan Change 7 (Water Permits) to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago,
- Plan Change 8 (Discharge Management) to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago, and
- Plan Change 1 (Dust Suppressants and Waste Oil) to the Regional Plan: Waste for Otago.
PC8 and PC1 are together referred to as ‘The Omnibus Plan Change’. The closing date for submissions is 5pm on Monday 17 August 2020.
The process for these three plan changes is different to the standard RMA process as the Minister for the Environment used his powers to ‘Call In’ these plan changes. This means that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) will be looking after the administration (receiving submissions, summarising submissions and providing information to the Environment Court), and the first hearing will be with the Environment Court. We have been informed that an Environment Court Judge will run the hearing locally and will encourage all parties to have their say.
This is different to the usual process of lodging submissions with the Council and having the first instance hearing with a council appointed hearing panel.
The use of the ‘Call In’ process also means that there are no appeals, other than appeals to the High Court on procedural matters.
Plan Change 7 (Water Permits)
This plan change proposes an objective, policies and rules that manage the replacement of deemed permits (also known as mining privileges) expiring in 2021 and any other water permits expiring prior to 31 December 2025 (the date by which a new Regional Land and Water Plan is expected to be operative). The plan change also introduces a new policy regarding the duration of new water permits.
Plan Change 7 was previously notified by the Otago Regional Council earlier this year. HortNZ lodged a thorough submission at that point. Due to legal obligations, the EPA have re-notified PC7 with PC8 and PC1. However, all submissions originally lodged will be considers with equal weight to any lodged directly with the EPA. HortNZ will not be lodging an additional submission. Click here to view the HortNZ PC7 submission.
If growers wish to also lodge a submission, they can use this PC7 submission template for them to use.
Click here for more information on PC7.
Plan Change 8 (Discharge Management)
The plan changes introduce a range of amendments targeting specific issues or activities known to be contributing to water quality issues in parts of Otago. Among other things, the plan changes will improve water quality provisions relating to discharges in various situations, for example: on farm storage of farm dairy effluent (for the first time in Otago). Given the targeted nature of this plan change, the implications for horticultural activities are not significant.
HortNZ has prepared a submission which generally supports provisions that could be relevant to horticulture, and where this is unclear, seeks clarity to ensure any confusion in the future is avoided.
Click here for more information on PC8.
Plan Change 1 (Dust Suppressants and Waste Oil)
This is a fairly minor plan change for horticulture. It promotes good management practice for landfill management and dust suppressants. It will prohibit the use of waste oil as a dust suppressant on gravel roads/tracks. As HortNZ’s policy position is to promote good management practice, therefore it would not be appropriate for HortNZ to oppose this plan change. However, if individual growers have concerns with PC1, then we encourage them to lodge their own submissions.
Click here for more information on PC1.
PC6AA and PC8
PC6AA postponed the date at which rules on discharge contaminant concentration and on nitrogen leaching come into force, from 1 April 2020 to 1 April 2026. HortNZ submitted in support of the date extension. PC6AA became operative on 16 May 2020. ORC is currently working on a new Land and Water Plan and it is anticipated that the new rules in the Land and Water Plan will supersede these discharge and nitrogen leaching rules before 2026. However, PC8 does introduce a new policy that will provide support to the rules in PC6AA. This situation is somewhat confusing and therefore we have prepared and a two-page summary to help explain which you can view here.
HortNZ will endeavour to engage with Council in the development of the new Land and Water Plan and will be preparing a submission on behalf of growers when it is notified in the future.