The stock exclusion rules in the Government’s Clean Water package should not be a “blanket one-size-fits-all” approach, says Tasman deputy mayor Tim King.
King, who is also an Eves Valley farmer, said he hoped the finalised rules would provide flexibility for the Tasman District Council to achieve the outcomes sought while enabling a range of solutions to suit the different circumstances around the district.
In some areas of Tasman district, such as Golden Bay, there was higher rainfall and more dairy farms than in other areas, such as the Waimea Plains and Moutere, he said.
There was no disagreement with the need to exclude stock from waterways in “intensive farming situations” but King said he was concerned about large farms with low stock numbers and no water quality issues.
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“It would be unfortunate if those who farm in an extensive and low-impact manner are forced to spend a significant amount of money on fencing that may result in minimal or no improvement to the water quality,” he said. “In my view, it’s not necessarily the best way to go.”
Along with the cost of fencing, farmers would face the consequential cost of getting water to stock.
“Water reticulation tends to be the biggest cost,” King said.
The Moutere-Waimea Ward councillor said he also had concerns that “the majority” of landowners did not have an understanding of what the rules would mean for them and what the cost could be.
“A lifestyle block with cattle, it’s going to apply to them and quite quickly if you’re on flatter land.”
The stock exclusion section in the Clean Water package proposes excluding dairy cattle and pigs from most lakes, rivers and streams from July 1 with compulsory stock exclusion to follow on a staggered basis until 2030, extending to include beef and deer and depending on land gradient.
Landowners unable to meet the requirements can apply for permission to instead develop a stock exclusion plan. Those who fail to meet the requirements may face a fine of up to $2000 for each instance of non-compliance.
“That’s an infringement fine for not excluding stock, not necessarily an infringement fine for having dirty water,” King said.
The deputy mayor’s comments come after TDC sent in a submission on the Clean Water package, which says an effective method of stock exclusion should allow for a wide range of methods and “avoid prescription” to allow for innovation and flexibility. TDC also recommended the regulation includes a series of tests or qualifying criteria on when a stock exclusion plan can be used in lieu of actual exclusion.
Submissions on the Clean Water package closed on April 28.