Freshwater farm plans
Making immediate improvements to water quality is one of the aims of new legislation that, in future, could affect all farms in Marlborough.
In June the Government released the Freshwater Farm Plan Regulations which form a key part of the 2020 Essential Freshwater Package. This aims to stop further decline to freshwater, reverse past damage and bring waterways to a healthy state within a generation.
All farms of five hectares or more in horticultural use, including viticulture, or 20 hectares in mixed, arable or pastoral use will require a freshwater farm plan from 2024.
“The aim is to stop further degradation of waterways,” Environmental Scientist Matt Oliver said.
“The central concept of Essential Freshwater is Te Mana o te Wai, which recognises that protecting the health of the freshwater protects the health and well-being of the wider environment.”
At Council’s August Environment and Planning Committee he said every region in the country must start freshwater farm planning under the new national regulations.
The regulations require farm operators in Marlborough to produce plans within 18 months of their part of the region being “switched on”.
“The first regions to be rolled out nationally were Waikato and Southland on 1 August, and the Marlborough region will be switched on from mid-2024,” he said. “We will have until the end of 2025 to turn on all our catchments.”
Multiple parties are involved in the implementation of the freshwater plan system including councils, tangata whenua, farm operators, independent certifiers and auditors and farm advisors.
Farms will firstly require assessment to see if a farm plan is needed. If it is, then one will need to be developed which identifies risks to freshwater and includes an action plan to mitigate those risks.
The farm will need to be certified by an independent certifier and, after 12 months, will need auditing to ensure actions have been undertaken.
Analysis of Council’s property records show there are potentially 1,700 freshwater farm plans required in Marlborough.