4.3.9 Clearance of Vegetation In, On or Under the Beds of Rivers and Lakes
188.8.131.52 Part XII RMA Enforcement – Clearance of Vegetation
Waikato Regional Council will apply for enforcement orders, issue abatement notices and use other enforcement mechanisms in Part XII of the RMA, where any of the following effects occur as a result of vegetation clearance in, on or under the bed of a river or lake:
- Release of sediments directly associated with vegetation removal, giving rise to any effect that exceeds the suspended sediment standards as set out in Section 4.2.21, or
- Significant bed or bank erosion, or
- Increase in the adverse effects of flooding on neighbouring properties, or
- Significant adverse effects on fish habitat, or
- Spread of undesirable plant species as listed in Rule 184.108.40.206 but also including crack willow (Salix fragilis), or
- Release of floating debris that has the potential to create a navigation hazard downstream.
220.127.116.11 Permitted Activity Rule – Vegetation Clearance
Except as provided for in Rule 18.104.22.168 the clearance of vegetation in, on or under the beds of rivers and lakes is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:
- Floating debris and plant material shall be prevented from drifting away causing obstructions to the river or lake bed, spreading plant pests (as listed in Rule 22.214.171.124) or creating a navigation hazard.
- The activity shall not cause any increase in flooding on neighbouring properties.
- The activity shall not take place in Significant Indigenous Fisheries and Fish Habitat Class waters during August to December inclusive and Trout Fisheries and Trout Spawning Habitat class waters during May to September inclusive.
- All materials from the vegetation clearance activity and associated equipment shall be removed from the river or lake bed and floodplain on the completion of that activity.
- The activity shall not disturb any archaeological site or waahi tapu as identified at the date of notification of this Plan, in any district plan, in the NZ Archaeological Association’s Site Recording Scheme, or by the Historic Places Trust except where Historic Places Trust approval has been obtained.
- In the event of any waahi tapu that is not subject to condition ‘x’ (c, or e respectively) being identified by the Waikato Regional Council to the person undertaking the introduction and planting of plants, the activity shall cease insofar as it may affect the waahi tapu. The activity shall not be recommenced without the approval of the Waikato Regional Council.
- No contaminants (including, but not limited to, oil, hydraulic fluids, petrol, diesel, other fuels, paint or solvents, but excluding sediment) shall be discharged to water from the activity.
- The Waikato Regional Council shall be notified in writing at least 10 working days prior to commencing the activity if it occurs within a flood or drainage control scheme area that is managed by the Waikato Regional Council or a territorial authority.
- The activity shall comply with the suspended solids discharge standards as set out in Section 4.2.21.
- Any erosion occurring as a result of the activity shall be remedied as soon as practicable.
- The activity shall not be located in, on, or under the bed of a river or lake that is identified as a Significant Geothermal Feature.
- The clearance of vegetation in, on or under the beds of rivers and lakes not provided for by Rule 126.96.36.199 is a discretionary activity pursuant to Rule 188.8.131.52.
- For vegetation clearance by way of spraying agrichemicals also refer to Section 6.2.4 of this Plan.
- Where a structure or activity is to be located in, on, under or over the bed of a water body that is Significant Geothermal Feature, Rules 184.108.40.206 to 220.127.116.11 shall apply. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
18.104.22.168 Discretionary Activity Rule – Clearance of Vegetation in Natural State Water Bodies and Wetlands
The clearance of vegetation, with the exclusion of plant pests as identified in the Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy, in, on or under the beds of rivers and lakes in Natural State water bodies identified in the Water Management Class Maps of this Plan and wetlands1 that are areas of significant indigenous vegetation and/or significant habitats of indigenous fauna is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).
- Refer to Rule 22.214.171.124 of this Plan regarding the clearance of riparian vegetation adjacent to Natural State Water Bodies and wetlands2 that are areas of significant indigenous vegetation and/or significant habitats of indigenous fauna.
- Refer to the policies and rules in Chapter 6.2 of this Plan if removing vegetation on the beds of rivers and lakes with agrichemicals.
- Refer to Rule 126.96.36.199 of this Plan for the discharge of a contaminant into water, or onto land when removing vegetation on the beds of river and lakes with agrichemicals.
- Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under Rule 188.8.131.52 are set out in Section 184.108.40.206. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in Policy 3 of Section 4.3.3.
Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods 220.127.116.11 to 18.104.22.168
Section 17 of the RMA places a duty on every person to avoid, remedy, or mitigate adverse environmental effects. Method 22.214.171.124 indicates that Waikato Regional Council will apply for enforcement orders, issue abatement notices and use other enforcement provisions under Part XII of the RMA to require a person to cease or prohibit from commencing an activity that may result in those effects occurring.
Under s13(2) of the RMA the clearance of vegetation from the bed of a river or lake is allowed unless a rule in a regional plan provides otherwise.
Rule 126.96.36.199 provides guidance on how vegetation clearance in, on or under the beds of rivers and lakes should occur and the adverse environmental effects to be avoided. The purpose of this Rule is to control the removal or disturbance of vegetation (excluding plant pests) in, on or under the beds of lakes or rivers identified as Natural State in the Water Management Class Maps of this Plan and wetland habitat of indigenous vegetation or fauna communities. It is recognised that, in some circumstances, vegetation clearance may be necessary such as in the case of plant pests and to prevent or mitigate flooding or damage to infrastructure or assets. This Rule does not prevent vegetation clearance for drain maintenance or flood control purposes in water bodies not classed as Natural State in the Water Management Class Maps of this Plan.