Regional plan not changed enough

A dairy farmer representative says the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council has not gone far enough in watering down its new plan to regulate farming.

The council's One Plan, covering the management of natural resources over the next 10 years, has generated strong opposition from some farmer groups who say it will require a consent to farm and could force some out of business.

On Wednesday, the council announced it was recommending a number of changes including requiring farmers to obtain resource consent only if they cannot meet nitrate discharge conditions.

These conditions require farmers to keep nitrate loss to under 20 - 30kg per hectare.

While it's a start, Dairy Farmers of New Zealand executive member, Andrew Hoggard of Fielding, says he's not sure if the discharge conditions can be met.

He says the dairy industry already has effective environmental practices in place, like the dairying and clean streams accord.

Mr Hoggard says Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council is just adding extra bureaucracy to it.

However, the council believes 60% of farms in the region already comply with the proposed discharge conditions.

Planning and regulatory manager Greg Carlyon says the conditions are based on a model, designed in conjunction with seven Crown research institutes, which links land use with water quality in the region.

A hearing panel will consider the proposed changes next week, before making its full decision at the end of June.

Regulation needed - Greens

The Green Party says the revised proposal to cap how much nitrate farmers can let into waterways is not enough to protect water quality, and regulation of farming is needed.

Co-leader Russel Norman says the regional council has clearly come under pressure from farming groups.

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