Farm Management

Unnecessary rules for Northland farmers stopped

Northland farmers no longer require resource consent for using hazardous substances on-farm.

Federated Farmers successfully took action to have the draft hazardous substances rules in the Whangarei district plan halted.

“Farmers would find themselves needing resource consent from the council for hazardous substances that are allowed by existing government legislation, if the draft went ahead,” says John Blackwell, Federated Farmers’ Northland Provincial President.

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) already provided comprehensive rules for managing hazardous substances, while the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 required users and handlers to be trained and certified.

“The draft council rules would have been duplicating these existing controls for no extra benefit, and there was also a risk that council rules would be inconsistent,” he said.

Draft rules were also unnecessary and complicated and left farmers in a quandary over what they actually had to do to be compliant.

“If you have ever tried to follow the draft rule table with permitted quantities by class, it’s very difficult to use, both for farmers and council staff,” said John.

Hazardous substance products are often made up of several classes and so multiple different quantities could apply to a single product.

For example, diesel has multiple classifications as it is a flammable liquid, and has toxic properties being a skin irritant, a carcinogen and an aquatic ecotoxin.

Each of these classifications had a different allowable quantity ranging from 20 tonnes down to 6 tonnes, leaving everyone unclear what amount of diesel was permitted, or how many litres this would translate to.

Under HSNO, any amount is allowed on farms, so long as the correct signs are displayed when storing over 1,000 litres or 10,000 litres.

The Resource Management Act was recently amended to take out district council functions over hazardous substances, which Federated Farmers had been advocating to be deleted for a long time.

“We are pleased to see that the Whangarei District Council has made the sensible decision to halt their plan change,” says John.

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