Waikato Regional Council reserves control over the following matters:
Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52
The above methods provide the range of non-regulatory and regulatory methods as provided for in the policies in Section 5.1.3 to achieve Objective 5.1.2. The non-regulatory methods can be used either separately or in conjunction with the rules.
Environmental education programmes as provided for in Method 184.108.40.206 are an effective means of providing resource users with information on how they can improve their land management practices.
Method 220.127.116.11 recognises that there is incomplete knowledge of accelerated erosion in the Region. Waikato Regional Council will undertake and encourage relevant investigations and monitoring to improve this knowledge and refine this chapter. Investigations may be undertaken by Waikato Regional Council or a number of different organisations including crown research institutes, or other organisations or individuals.
Method 18.104.22.168 acknowledges that many individuals and organisations have adopted good practices including codes of practice and environmental management systems that are designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse environmental effects. Environmental management systems provide a systematic framework for ensuring an organisation complies with environmental legislation and improves its performance.
Method 22.214.171.124 provides for economic incentives to be used to meet the objectives of this Plan. Economic incentives may be used in circumstances where financial considerations are an obstacle to bringing about practices that avoid, remedy or mitigate accelerated erosion.
Waikato Regional Council has produced a handbook entitled ‘Funding for Environmental Projects’ which provides information on sources of funding support for environmental projects based in the Waikato Region. These funding sources include Waikato Regional Council and other agencies/organisations. This booklet is available from Waikato Regional Council offices.
Method 126.96.36.199 provides that through the development and implementation of property management plans or environmental management systems, landowners, with the assistance of Waikato Regional Council, will be able to identify erosion risk areas and measures that will avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects of land use activities. These plans are voluntary and will also assist in promoting sustainable land management in conjunction with environmental education initiatives under Method 188.8.131.52.
Method 184.108.40.206 provides a means by which to investigate the workability and possible implementation of an approved operators approach with respect to soil disturbance and vegetation clearance activities in the Waikato Region. This approach provides the possibility of recognising the skills of competent operators and as such allowing them to be excluded from resource consent requirements for soil disturbance and vegetation clearance activities.
Method 220.127.116.11 recognises that land use issues affect both regional council and territorial authority functions in regard to land. The preparation and implementation of joint plans, strategies or agreements will enable territorial authorities and Waikato Regional Council to develop plans, strategies or agreements that cover both regional council and territorial authority responsibilities under one plan. This will ensure that in those areas where joint plans, strategies or agreements are developed that there will be consistent objectives and consent requirements for land use activities. The four priority areas identified in this method are areas where Waikato Regional Council considers that a joint plan, strategy or agreement would assist in fulfilling both regional council and territorial authority functions.
Method 18.104.22.168 is included because land use consent applications submitted to territorial authorities often have the potential to affect soil conservation issues. Territorial authorities send many of their consent applications to Waikato Regional Council for comment. Waikato Regional Council recognises that providing information, advice or comments on these consent applications is an effective means by which to address soil conservation issues and ensure that land instability is addressed during consideration of subdivision and other land use consent applications.
Waikato Regional Council will monitor the adverse effects caused by livestock on the beds and banks of rivers and lakes. If there is no noticeable improvement in the current situation through the use of non-regulatory methods in this Plan, Waikato Regional Council will consider introducing regional rules when the Plan is reviewed or by 2005, whichever is the sooner. Method 22.214.171.124 gives an early indication of future methods such as a regulatory ‘backstop’ that Waikato Regional Council will use, where voluntary action by landowners has not taken place and where significant adverse effects of unrestricted livestock access are still occurring.
Section 17 of the RMA places a duty on every person to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse environmental effects. As provided for in Method 126.96.36.199 where land management practices that occur in areas outside high risk erosion areas and below the thresholds identified in Rules 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206, result in the adverse effects noted in Policy 2 parts a) and b), Waikato Regional Council will apply for enforcement orders and issue abatement notices under Part XII of the RMA. This may require a person to cease or prohibit them from commencing an activity that may result in those effects occurring.
Rule 220.127.116.11 makes it clear that soil disturbance, roading and tracking and vegetation removal are permitted activities, provided they are outside high risk erosion areas and undertaken below the thresholds identified in Rules 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199. It should be noted that there might also be district plan rules, which restrict land disturbance activities in areas outside of high risk erosion areas, for example earthworks controls on subdivision.
Rule 188.8.131.52 makes soil cultivation more than two metres from the bed of a river or lake a permitted activity. Soil cultivation adjacent to river and lake beds can lead to high sediment inputs into streams resulting in infilling of watercourses, damage to aquatic habitats and degradation of water quality.
Rule 184.108.40.206 provides for those situations where an activity cannot comply with the conditions of Rule 220.127.116.11 and occurs outside of a high risk erosion area and the requirements of Rule 18.104.22.168.
Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Rule 22.214.171.124 focus on soil disturbance and roading and tracking activities because data from a wide range of sources including industry and research shows that these are the activities that cause the greatest levels of erosion and sediment runoff. They are therefore the activities that have the potential to cause the most significant adverse effects.
The purpose of part 5 of Rule 126.96.36.199 is to control the clearance of vegetation, other than planted production forests and plant pests, in high risk erosion areas. Removal of vegetation in high risk erosion areas may result in accelerated erosion leading to adverse effects on waterways hence this Plan requires consent to be obtained if clearing vegetation between one and five hectares.
Plant pests are excluded from Rule 188.8.131.52 because Waikato Regional Council has a regional pest management strategy that encourages the clearance of these plants.
Planted production forests are exclude from Rule 184.108.40.206 because harvesting and replanting of production forestry is cyclical, with a relatively short period of risk for potential mass movement erosion on harvested slopes compared to land uses which do not rapidly reestablish protective woody vegetation.
Where land use activities requiring a number of resource consents are proposed over an area of operation, these could be applied for in one package. Submitting a management plan or management system that details methods for avoiding, remedying or mitigating the significant adverse effects of an activity may be an appropriate method of ensuring that significant adverse effects are appropriately managed and may fulfil resource consent requirements.
Part 6 of Rule 220.127.116.11 is included because vegetation removal within five metres of and between 50 and 100 metres along, a perennial water body may result in erosion of the stream bank with subsequent adverse effects. Erosion may be caused by the physical action of removing the woody vegetation and subsequent weakening and dying of the roots.
Five metres from a water body is specified because this is considered to be a distance where the removal of vegetation from that area would have direct adverse effects on stream bank stability. A five metre riparian strip will buffer the aquatic habitat from surrounding land use and protect the banks of the stream.
The 50 to 100 metres distance in part 6 of Rule 18.104.22.168 allows minor or small areas of vegetation to be removed alongside water bodies. Where 50 metres or more of vegetation is removed the potential for adverse effects increase and are therefore subject to control. If less than 50 metres of vegetation is removed and adverse effects occur as a result, Waikato Regional Council will apply for Part XII enforcement mechanisms to require the person to fulfil the duty referred to in s17 of the RMA.
Planted production forestry and riparian enhancement programmes are excluded from part 6 of Rule 22.214.171.124 because riparian areas subject to these activities are either replanted or left to revert to natural vegetation. Riparian enhancement programmes assist with maintaining stream bank stability and improving and enhancing water quality and habitat.
Part 7 of Rule 126.96.36.199 is included to give certainty that planted production forestry and riparian enhancement programmes within five metres of a perennial stream and greater than 50 metres in length per kilometre are able to occur. These activities result in riparian areas being replanted or reverting to natural vegetation in order to prevent adverse effects on perennial water bodies.
Rule 188.8.131.52 focuses on all water bodies in the Region because this is consistent with advocating streamside management along all water bodies in Chapter 3.9 of this Plan.
Rule 184.108.40.206 provides for activities that do not comply with the standards and terms of the controlled activities and are likely to have significant adverse effects. For example, in the case of Natural State water bodies the clearance of vegetation within five metres may cause inputs of sediment and nutrients that adversely affect water quality. Rules 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 would not prevent the removal of a small number of trees over a limited area.
The intention of the high risk erosion area definition is to restrict the application of Rules 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 to the areas specified in the definition and to permit activities that fall outside of this definition. Only the works done within high risk erosion areas shall be subject to length, volume and area thresholds specified in Rules 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206. In the case of an existing road or track the pre-existing slope does not refer to a cut batter.
Figure 5-1 illustrates the application of regional rules in areas adjacent to water bodies. The application of the controls on soil disturbance and vegetation clearance are intended to reduce the likelihood of disturbed sediment entering water bodies and to prevent erosion of river and lake banks. The driving force of slope is therefore an important controlling parameter. Rule 220.127.116.11 establishes a minimum fixed width for riparian areas, in this case on each side of the stream. The purpose is to preserve the main portion of existing riparian vegetation that maintains the aquatic habitat. The establishment, maintenance and enhancement of riparian areas are promoted through advocacy and education in Chapter 3.9 of this Plan.
The purpose of Rule 18.104.22.168 is to protect the Coromandel, Whangapoua, Whitianga, Tairua, Wharekawa, Whangamata, Manaia, Colville Bay, Waikawau, Purangi and Otahu estuaries from sedimentation that is occurring due to land use activities in these catchments. These estuaries are particularly affected by sedimentation since the commencement of land clearance for mining, kauri logging, farming and production forestry. These estuaries have been included in this Rule because they have been specifically identified as having very high sedimentation rates, and have been identified in the Regional Coastal Plan as Areas of Significant Conservation Value.
Rule 22.214.171.124 is included to prevent uncontrolled soil disturbance and vegetation clearance adjacent to a stream sink or cave entrance and uncontrolled creation of new cave entrances. Such activities may cause adverse effects on water quality and sedimentation within the cave system. Soil disturbances and vegetation clearance may also compromise the natural values of a karst system through the entry of sediment, changes in air and water flow regimes and the introduction of foreign matter.
Section 5.1.6 sets out those matters which Waikato Regional Council has chosen to retain control over. These are matters that are best considered on an individual consent basis, as they may vary according to specific circumstances of a particular consent.
The 25° slope in part a) of the high risk erosion area definition is only a trigger factor and the degree of slope is not the sole factor to be assessed. Soil type and underlying geology are often more relevant than the degree of slope.