23 Nov 2009

Nitrogen capping may not require major change

6:36 pm on 23 November 2009

Reports from Waikato Regional Council staff implementing farming restrictions around Lake Taupo suggest that many farms will not have to change their operations.

But landowners are still unhappy at not being able to expand their operations.

Under new planning rules introduced by the council, livestock farming around the lake is restricted and farmers need resource consents to continue operating.

The aim is to protect the lake's water quality by permanently reducing the amount of nitrogen leaching into it, mainly from dairy and sheep and beef farms.

Council staff carry out assessments measuring the nitrogen loss from the farm's most intensive year, and set a nitrogen cap that the property must operate within.

The head of the council's Taupo implementation team, Natasha Hayward, says staff have focused their efforts on assessing and benchmarking the region's biggest farms.

And although farmers have been reluctant to discuss nitrogen capping in the past, she says, recent feedback from staff suggests that that attitude is changing and that there's a growing acceptance of the new rules.