Land Improvement Agreements

There are Land Improvement Agreements in place for some land titles in the Canterbury region, which relate to soil and water conservation, erosion control, firebreaks, sediment control and berm protection.

Land Improvement Agreements were negotiated on a voluntary basis by Environment Canterbury and the region’s four former Catchment Authorities, under Subsection (3) of Section 30 of the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941.

They resulted in works undertaken by landowners in return for subsidies or grants in relation to:

  • Soil and water conservation
  • Wind erosion control
  • Erosion control
  • A regional firebreak scheme
  • Sediment control and berm protection works

There are 114 agreements registered on property titles in Canterbury, which are managed in terms of the Revised Council Policies for Land Improvement Agreement Management approved on 1 June 2016. These policies define how each agreement should be treated and are shown below. You can check your land title to see if a Land Improvment Agreement is associated with a property you own.

Revised council policies for Land Improvement Agreement management*

Policy 1

Proactively terminate all LIAs where Environment Canterbury no longer has a legal interest or role in their management.

This includes those LIAs where:

  • The term of the agreement has expired (Council obligation under Section 30A (5) of the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941); upon the expiration or termination of a registered LIA, the authorised officer shall sign a certificate stating that the agreement has expired or been terminated and shall deposit the certificate with the registrar who shall, without fee, enter a memorial of the expiration or termination of the agreement on the register against the appropriate title
  • Retirement and surrender of land to the Crown is the main objective and has been completed. Soil conservation conditions have been achieved through the Tenure Review process and Council has given consent to the Substantive Proposal
  • A Certificate of Termination/Expiry has been issued by Council but LIA is still on the titleIt is a Regional Firebreak Scheme and it is in the best interest of the landowner to maintain access.

It is open to the parties to agree to a variation or termination of an operative LIA; the Council will keep a register of these actions. No fee will be applied where Environment Canterbury takes the initiative to remove the LIA.

Policy 2

An invitation to terminate the LIA will be proactively offered, where:

  • It involves windbreak planting on irrigated land
  • The landholder has complied with all obligations and the value of the subsidy has been met, and conditions are now included into routine farm management practice and there is no further requirement to maintain the terms of the agreement
  • It can be shown that a covenant or provision in a regional plan or bylaw has been applied to the land that meets the conditions in the LIA and covers the same area and or type of work.

It is open to the parties to agree to a variation or termination of an operative LIA; the Council will keep a register of these actions. No fee will be applied where Environment Canterbury takes the initiative to remove the LIA.

Policy 3

A request for termination will be considered on a case-by-case basis where it involves:

  • Land contained within a Crown pastoral lease that has not undergone Tenure Review
  • Tree planting and/or structures to stabilise sand dunes, gullies, and deep seated forms of erosion
  • Windbreak planting under dryland arable use
  • Specified grazing conditions for managing erosion risk or vegetation cover
  • Where 30 years has lapsed since the agreement was executed for the same type of work.

The decision will be based on the status of the LIA at the time of the request and the ongoing role of the works and conditions for providing long-term soil conservation outcomes.

Environment Canterbury staff will carry out a field visit in response to a request for termination only where the benefits under (i) to (iv) cannot be determined from files or by contacting the landholder. Council will charge a fee as set in the Long-Term Plan 2015-25 Fees and Charges Policy for any application to terminate a LIA under Policy 3.

Policy 4

A request for termination should not be granted where:

Land retirement and/or permanent destocking is a condition of the agreement, whether affecting leasehold and/or freehold land; this includes rating district and engineering works not covered by the provisions in a regional plan or bylaw.

  • These include LIAs regarding land that is inherently at high risk of erosion if:
  • The vegetation cover is disturbed or removed
  • The risk of erosion derives from the natural vulnerability of the soil type and geology of the land
  • There is a legacy of past loss of topsoil and vegetation cover
  • The land is at a higher altitude, where there is limited ability for degraded soils to be remediated from vegetation or soil loss.

Termination should only be considered where other protection mechanisms are in place.

Environment Canterbury staff will monitor a 10 per cent cross section of LIAs each year and prepare a report on the effectiveness of LIA works undertaken for each property.

Policy 5

Environment Canterbury will:

  • Promote the ongoing soil conservation benefits of LIAs retained under Policy 3 and Policy 4
  • Monitor the effectiveness of conditions and works undertaken to achieve the soil conservation outcomes for those LIAs retained under Policy 4
  • Report on any non-compliance for LIAs listed in Policies 3 and 4, where resolution cannot be achieved through consultation, and make recommendations to Council for remedial action to be taken
  • Undertake a review of Policies 1-5 as part of, and consistent with, any review of land management policies for soil conservation in regional plans.

*As amended 1 June 2016