The country can be a great place to live. Waipa has its fair share of residential properties that are 'pepper-potted' through agricultural areas which, however scenic, are also working farms.

Sometimes the expectations of residential property owners and those of agricultural producers working on their property can come into conflict.

This is especially acute where spraying is concerned. Spraying disputes are a common source of tension between neighbours living in the country.

It can help to avoid these tensions if everyone knows their rights and obligations. Three simple things can go a long way to keeping the peace.

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Understand your obligations. The law governing the spraying of agricultural chemicals is governed by the Waikato Regional Plan and is a permitted activity provided certain conditions are met.

What those conditions are, change depending on variables such as the distance from the neighbour's boundary and spray method. The plan also says what doesn't count as a discharge to air because it is considered too minor.

What those who spray always have to remember is that a 'permitted activity' is only permitted if those conditions are met in full.

It is not the same as "as of right" or an entitlement. If one of the conditions is missed, your spraying operation is not a permitted activity at all; it becomes by default a 'controlled activity'.

A controlled activity requires prior consent from the Regional Council before spraying begins; and can be subject to penalties if you don't so, if you are unclear on your obligations, get some advice before you spray.

Fortunately, the conditions that anyone wishing to spray must meet to stay 'permitted' are not difficult and in fact are sometimes neighbourly common sense. The primary condition for most types of spraying is to make sure that they are that you neighbours are properly notified before you spray.

Of course the law of nuisance exists independently of the Plan and the effects of the spray must still be kept to your land.

Anyone who damages their neighbour's garden with runaway roundup is still liable.
Understand your rights. Sometimes homeowners misunderstand the fact that they must be notified to imply that they can withhold consent.

Notification is largely intended to give them an opportunity take any steps, for example by unhooking a roof water tank or taking in the washing, not to object to the reasonable use of rural land.

Use common sense. Remember to talk to each other. Just keeping your neighbours in the loop can avoid a lot of misunderstanding and bad feeling later on.

Being on good terms with the people we live and work with is an old-fashioned courtesy and part of what makes our rural communities so special.