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New Environmental Freshwater Standard

New Environmental Freshwater Standard

New Environmental Freshwater Standard

Friday 5 June, 2020

The Government’s new Action for healthy waterways package will impose proactive obligations on farmers and growers to prevent further degradation of New Zealand’s waterways. The Package, announced on 28 May, includes a proposed new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, National Environment Standard for Freshwater and Regulations for stock exclusion. These will place significant compliance obligations on agricultural and horticultural industries, starting from next year.

The Package is aimed at maintaining or improving the freshwater quality of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. Farmers will have to exclude stock from waterways by 1 July 2023 or 1 July 2025, depending on the stock type, activities, and location. There will be new controls on winter grazing of forage crops from winter 2021 and resource consent will be required for feedlots and stockholding areas that don’t meet minimum standards.

The regulations will introduce a cap on synthetic fertilisers to reduce nitrogen use, and resource consent will be required for certain land use changes and expansions of farming activity. Councils will be required to maintain or improve water quality and manage nutrients. There will be a move to real-time measuring and reporting data on water use.

Next steps

If Cabinet agrees to the Action for healthy waterways package, the Minister for the Environment will present Cabinet with amended drafts of the new Policy Statement, Environmental Standard and Regulations for approval by July 2020.


If you have concerns about how the freshwater reforms might affect your business, our Resource Management Team can help.

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