Wednesday 25 October 2017

Resource Consent Compliance

Resource consent compliance…three words that will generally illicit reactions such as a long sigh, a shuffle of feet, or a desperate look for just about any alternative to this less than exciting aspect of farming. There is a long list of things that need sorting on any farm and compliance management isn’t usually very high on that list.

However, as we all saw in the lead-up to the general election, society's microscope was placed squarely on the agricultural industries. Now more than ever, a higher level of diligence is required and expected to be sure that the correct resource consents are in place for what you are doing and that you are adhering to their content. A she’ll be right attitude won’t cut it and is likely to lead to some quality time with your friendly Regional Council Compliance Officer. The days of getting a consent, stuffing it in the desk draw and forgetting about it are in the distant past.

Let’s take a step back here. What is a resource consent? In essence, it is a licence to do something. In simplistic terms, you want to do “X” and to do “X” you agree to do (or not do) “A, B & C”. If you live in the Canterbury region and have been granted a new resource consent in the last few years, or renewed an existing one, there is a good chance that "A, B & C" has had a good portion of the alphabet added to it and the level of what is required has gone up a notch or two.

Don’t get me wrong, not every condition is onerous, and in fact your everyday on farm management will be ticking the boxes for a lot of conditions. “Don’t discharge effluent to frozen ground.” Done. “Avoid leakage from pipes.” Of course. “Avoid irrigating non-productive land and impermeable surfaces.” No worries, the end gun is programmed to turn off across there.

There are, though, going to be conditions that are less straight forward or just simply not easily remembered. Implementing a program of water quality monitoring on the stream that runs through your property with annual summary reporting isn’t something the average Joe has to deal with very often. And likewise, getting your water meter verified every five years isn’t exactly front of mind for most farmers.

How you deal with these types of conditions will vary according to your situation. For some people, it can all be a bit much at times and a bit of help is needed to tidy it all up.  At Irricon we offer a wraparound service to help out, called Compliance Pro. In the first instance, we can look at your consents to make sure they are right for what you are doing. With the aid of a software package we can store relevant documents and set up reminders for things such as meter verifications and backflow prevention testing. The software package works as project management tool where conditions can be worked through and ticked off so that you can be confident you are front footing your obligations rather than following a visit from the Council Compliance team or a firm letter in the mail. We can implement the work required to undertake and administer such things as water quality monitoring, seepage test or monitor the standing water levels of bores during the off season. We offer varying levels of involvement from help on just a couple of things to becoming the nagging mother you never wanted but always needed.

Ultimately, you have a choice in how you manage your compliance. You can be reactive or proactive. If you are sick of having the Council on your case, if you think you could use a bit of help or want to change the approach you take to your compliance, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Come over and check us out online at