Waikato Regional councillors have approved a new approach to monitoring dairy farms to see if they are complying with effluent rules.
The new guidelines were developed by a group of councillors and industry representatives, following farmers' concerns about helicopter monitoring, inspections without appointments and rules around sealing effluent ponds.
Within the plan, the council will continue to monitor non-compliance with dairy effluent rules, but helicopter use and unannounced inspections will stop after the group decided those tactics created tension.
Federated Farmers Waikato president Chris Lewis said the guidelines were now much clearer and everyone was on the same page.
"In my opinion they're very good guidelines, they're not easy guidelines, they are very, very tough and the guidelines are around improving infrastructure on Waikato dairy farms and also working with dairy farmers to get the best outcomes on individual farms; so that's why the working group favoured this approach."
He said the only way to achieve change was to work with people.
"It's going to make it very clear to farmers what the obligation is. In the past ... people have accused them (the regional council) of having very unclear rules or not knowing what they meant."