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Published: 2009-12-10 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is announcing details of the indicative charges farmers will face for new consents in the Lake Taupo catchment.

Under the council’s yet to be finalised Variation 5 to the Waikato Regional Plan, farming in the catchment is due to become a consented activity from next year as part of moves to protect water quality in Lake Taupo from the effects of nitrogen leaching.

As part of Variation 5’s implementation, the Government and ratepayer-funded Lake Taupo Protection Trust is paying the $5000 average cost per farm to determine their Nitrogen Discharge Allowance benchmark, a measure of the amount of nutrient they can leach in future.

EW is advising that farmers can expect to pay between $1000 and $3000 to gain resource consent under the scheme, which equates to about a sixth to nearly a half of the total cost of gaining resource consent (including benchmarking) to continue farming in the Taupo catchment.

Also, there will be annual consent monitoring charges ranging from $500 to $2500 per consented farming operation, to cover EW staff site visits and consent audits.

Finally, there will be an annual consent charge of $351. Annual consent charges help pay for the on-going administration of consents and monitoring of the cumulative environmental effects of all consented activities.

The three latter types of charges are already standard for most consents in the region, although actual consent processing, monitoring and annual charge fees vary depending on the nature and complexity of the activity. Generally, consents involving more complex issues, and with a greater potential for significant environmental effect, incur higher charges. The annual charge for farmers in the Taupo catchment are towards the lower end of consent charges in the region.

The exact level of charges for each Taupo farm – apart from the $351 annual consent charge – will vary, depending on factors like farm size and the complexity of assessing compliance with consent conditions for individual properties.

Taupo implementation manager Natasha Hayward said the charges were broadly in line with informal signals EW had been giving to farmers in recent months.

"The initial resource consent processing and monitoring charges are higher than first predicted due to a reassessment of the amount of staff time involved in consent assessment and monitoring. But the charges are consistent with what we’ve been signalling to farmers recently."

Ms Hayward said a final decision on implementing Variation 5 is expected from the Environment Court early next year.

"However, we’ve wanted to outline these charges now so that farmers can start factoring them into their business costs. Applications for consents are happening this financial year, and the annual charge and monitoring fees are due to kick in next financial year."