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Risk scoping study and compliance assessment for selected permitted activity rules

TR 2011/34

Report: TR 2011/34

Author: Alchemists Ltd, Tony Fenton


Waikato Regional Council (WRC) has designated many farming activities as ‘permitted’ in its Regional Plan. This approach recognises the desire for land owners to undertake their businesses with the minimum of rules and associated costs. Permitted activities (PA) therefore provide an opportunity for farmers to undertake many of their activities related to water without the need for a consent but they must still comply with the conditions set out under the PA rules.

An inherent difficulty with permitted activity rules is that there is limited ability to address the variability in natural resources and land use activities that occur across a region as large as the Waikato and this can alter the significance of any non-compliance for a receiving environment. The implementation of these PA rules requires both assessing the compliance of current activities including relative risk to a specific site and looking for indicators of risk of future non-compliance.

The purpose of this report is to provide information for two key outcomes: 

  1. Identification of the relative risk for contaminant loss as a result of non-compliance with the rules within the six selected Permitted Activity (PA) rules from the Waikato Regional Plan.  These rules are:
    • Farm dairy effluent (WRP – Farm effluent onto land)
    • Stock in water bodies (WRP – Livestock on beds and banks of rivers and lakes)
    • Culverts (WRP – Catchments <5ha, – Catchments <100ha)
    • Soil disturbance and vegetation clearance of (WRP – Soil disturbance, roading, tracking and vegetation clearance)
    • Dams and Damming water (WRP – Small dams and damming water, – Existing lawfully established damming on perennial water bodies)
    • Dumps and offal holes (WRP - Dumps on production land, – Offal holes)
  2. Provision of guideline notes and the identification of important assessment factors to assist the enforcement and field staff in determining if any activities relating to the above PA rules and the associated discharges that represent non-compliance with the rule or pose an unacceptable risk to the environment.

The main sections of the report provides for the six PA areas an overview of contaminant losses, a risk assessment and guidelines for field evaluation.

Risk scoping study and compliance assessment for selected permitted activity rules [PDF, 576 KB]

  Executive Summary 4
1 Background 7
1.1 Purpose of Report 7
1.2 Role of Permitted Activities in Management of Agricultural Impacts 7
1.3 Variability in Regional Resources and Activities 8
1.4 Assessment and Management of Risk - Overview 8
1.4.1 The Nature of Risk 9
1.4.2 Assessment of Risk 9
1.4.3 Risk Matrix 10
2 Contaminant Loss from Productive Land Use - Overview 12
2.1 Important Water Quality Impacts 12
2.2 Contaminant Loss from Agricultural Land Use – Overview 13
3 Contaminant Loss From Permitted Activity Areas 17
3.1 Dairy Effluent Discharge onto Land 17
3.2 Livestock in Waterways 19
3.3 Soil Disturbance and Vegetation Clearance 23
3.4 Dams and Damming 24
3.5 Culverts 25
3.6 Dumps and Offal Holes 26
4 Risk Assessment of PA Areas 27
4.1 Dairy Effluent Discharge onto Land 27
4.2 Livestock in Waterways 28
4.3 Soil Disturbance and Vegetation Clearance 30
4.4 Dams and Damming 31
4.5 Culverts 32
4.6 Dumps and Offal Holes 34
4.7 Risk Matrix for PA Areas 35
5 Field Evaluation of Permitted Activity Rules 36
5.1 Evaluation Practices – Overview 36
5.2 Assessment of Compliance 37
5.3 Assessment of Risk 38
5.4 Identifying Opportunities 38
5.5 Permitted Activity Areas 39
5.5.1 Farm Animal Effluent onto Land – WRP 39
5.5.2 Livestock in Waterways 40
5.5.3 Soil Disturbance and Vegetation Clearance 42
5.5.4 Dams and Damming 43
5.5.5 Culverts 44
5.5.6 Dumps and Offal Holes 44
6 Appendices 46
6.1 Appendix 1 - Classification guidelines used to assess compliance status 46
6.2 Appendix 2 - Waikato Regional Plan - Permitted Activity Rules 47
Section 3.5 Discharges 47
Section 3.6 Damming and Diverting 49
Section 4.2 River and Lake Bed Structures 51
Section 4.3   55
Section 5.1   59
Section 5.2 Discharges Onto or Into Land 61
7 References 65