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Published: 2011-12-21 00:00:00

Owners of farms larger than 20 hectares now have until 31 January next year to qualify for funding of their nitrogen discharge allowance assessments and nutrient management plans (NMPs) which are required for their resource consent applications.

Variation 5 involves farms around Lake Taupo having to get resource consents to operate under a new regime designed to cap nitrogen leaching to the lake. The Variation was formerly adopted by the council on 7 July this year after which time landowners had six months to lodge their consent applications.

Under the policy – which started being implemented in 2007 – Waikato Regional Council has focused on encouraging the large farms through the process of gaining resource consent under Variation 5 for their farming operations. Owners have had the costs of nutrient discharge benchmarking and NMPs paid for from the public fund.

Now the Lake Taupo Protection Project Joint Committee has decided that the remaining 10 or so larger land owners who haven’t started the consent process must get their applications, including their completed NDA assessments and NMPs, in by the end of January to qualify for the funding.

“These 10 bigger farms are encouraged to get their benchmarking and NMPs completed and applications in promptly. After all, it has been four years since we started implementing Variation 5,” said the council’s on-farm programme manager, Natasha Hayward.

“The costs of benchmarking and getting an NMP done can be up to $5000 so it’s well worth making the effort to meet the deadline.”

Ms Hayward said the council would be writing to the land owners involved.

She said the January deadline for financial support from the public fund did not apply to those with farming operations of less than 20 hectares.

“There’s been less of a focus in the early years of Variation 5 implementation on the smaller land owners. For example, it was only announced in October this year that smaller land owners would also have their benchmarking and NMP costs met by the trust, if they require a resource consent to run stock on their properties.

“However, we would encourage those with properties under 20 hectares who require a consent to get their applications in as soon as possible, as there is limited funding for NDA and NMP assessments and this funding may not continue beyond the 2011/12 financial year,” she said.

The Lake Taupo Protection Trust administers the public fund contributed to by central government, the regional council and Taupo District Council.

For further information about consenting under Variation 5, contact Ms Hayward at 0800 800 401 or natasha.hayward@waikatoregion.govt.nz.