River-based gravel extraction

Gravel lying naturally in riverbeds is a convenient source of aggregate for commercial or private use. Extracting it offers a cost-effective method of managing flooding and erosion hazards.

You’ll need permission to extract gravel either as a permitted activity or by obtaining a gravel authorisation or a resource consent – each of which are explained below.

Extractions are controlled by various rules in our regional plans depending on your intended activity and other activities that may be associated with the excavation, such as working in flowing water, using temporary culverts, temporarily diverting channels or discharging dust into the air.

Everthing you need to know about extracting gravel from riverbeds can be found in section 2.2 of the River Gravel Extraction Code of Practice (PDF File, 604.44KB) and under the drop-down menus below.

Gravel management strategy
The Canterbury Regional River Gravel Management Strategy provides a framework for sustainable management of gravel extracted from rivers throughout Canterbury. 
The strategy sets out the role of Environment Canterbury in managing gravel extraction from rivers, the outcomes we wish to achieve and the methods by which gravel extraction should occur.
Active management of gravel provides flood hazard protection that ensures community safety and wellbeing, while allowing for sustainable economic development without compromising cultural, social and environmental outcomes and values.
Permission and costs to extract river-based gravel
There are several options available for authorising the extraction of gravel from river beds.
  • Small volumes of gravel may be extracted as a permitted activity under our regional plans.
  • A gravel authorisation may be obtained to extract gravel on behalf of Environment Canterbury for up to 60,000m³ for 12 months (30,000m³ in South Canterbury).
  • A gravel permit may be issued to extract gravel under the resource consents we hold.
  • Obtain a resource consent.

Work out which option suits your needs and how much it will cost using the table below.

Please note that gravel charges are based on the volume of gravel authorised to be extracted, even if you end up taking none. However, you can apply to have your resource consent varied to change the volume of material allocated to a particular resource consent.

This means your overall gravel charge will be reduced but any charges based on the original consented volume paid prior to the change of conditions will not be refunded.

 

Current
July 2015
Permitted activity Gravel authorisation Resource consent
 Volume 5m³/yr - 50 m³/yr
River dependant – contact us for your site.
South Canterbury: 30,000m³ max
Central/North: 60,000m³ max.

Any volume.

Note: our river engineers advocate for the same maximum volumes as gravel authorisations.

 Duration  No restriction 12 months maximum.

Up to 35 years.

Note: long durations are unlikely, our river engineers advocate for a max. duration of 12 months.

 Costs No charge,
Although not compulsory a Certificate of Compliance can be sought for $230
1,500m³ or less: $345
Greater than 1,500m³: $862.50 (includes GST).

Application fixed deposit:

$1,725 – additional cost may be charged if deposit doesn’t cover the cost of processing. (includes GST).

Gravel management fee  Nil  $0.13/m³  $0.13/m³
Monitoring charges Nil $97.75 per hour for monitoring
$69.00 per hour for administration (includes GST)
$97.75 per hour for monitoring $69.00 per hour for administration
(includes GST)
Permitted activities explained
Rule 5.148 of the Land and Water Regional Plan applies to all rivers in Canterbury, with the exception of the Waimakariri River and some of its tributaries.
The rule governing small scale gravel extraction in these areas is rule 7.1 of the Waimakariri River Regional Plan.
In Rule 5.148 of the Land and Water Regional Plan the volume of permitted gravel extraction ranges from 5m³ a year to 20m³ a year, depending on the river.
Under the Waimakariri River Regional Plan, the volume of permitted gravel extraction ranges from 10m³ a week to 50m³ a year.
In addition to the volume conditions, there are other requirements to meet before the extraction is permitted.
Email gravel@ecan.govt.nz or contact us to find out more. 
Gravel authorisations explained
Obtaining a gravel authorisation will allow you to operate as a permitted activity.
Under rule 5.149 of the Land and Water Regional Plan you can extract gravel on our behalf for the purpose of flooding and erosion hazard management.
These authorisations can be granted for a maximum volume of 60,000m³ and a maximum duration of 12 months.
In South Canterbury, the maximum volume is limited to 30,000m³, in accordance with the South Canterbury Gravel Agreement.
Authorisations are issued in areas where there is excess gravel that needs to be removed for hazard management purposes.
Rule 5.139 of the Land and Water Regional Plan prevents gravel extraction in water bodies listed as a salmon spawning site or a high naturalness water body or in īnanga spawning sites during the spawning season
Authorisations are not available in the Waimakariri River and its tributaries, as gravel extraction here is governed by the Waimakariri River Regional Plan and separate rules apply.

From the Rangitata River and south you will require an availability form (pink slip). Please contact us for this. 

For north of the Rangitata River, fill in the online availability form.

Gravel authorisations will have standard rules specified in the River Gravel Extraction Code of Practice (PDF File, 604.44KB); however, variations to these standard conditions may be requested on your gravel authorisation application form (PDF File, 1.32MB)

Sites where we cannot issue authorisations
  • Clarence River and its tributaries
  • Waimakariri River and its tributaries including:
- Eyre River and Eyre River Diversion
- Kowai River
- Coopers Creek
- Cust River
  • Orari River: Mouth to Factory Rd bridge
  • Opihi River: Temuka River Confluence to SH79 Bridge in Fairlie
  • Temuka River: Opihi River confluence to Oxford Crossing Rd
  • Waihi River: Oxford Crossing Rd to Beeby Rd
  • Tengawai River: Opihi Confluence to Albury
  • Waitaki River: SH1 Bridge to Dam
  • Hakataramea River
Health and safety and public liability insurance
If you use a gravel authorisation on our behalf we require you to provide extra information with your application to satisfy us that you will be safe and have adequate financial protection in case the unexpected happens.
  • You must provide evidence of public liability insurance to the value of at least $500,000.
  • You must provide site specific health and safety plans for each site. Use our template or one of your own. Contact us if you need assistance completing the plan.
Resource consent
Information and guidance on resource consent applications can be found here
Forms specific to gravel take:

From the Rangitata River and south you will require an availability form (pink slip). Please contact us for this. 

For north of the Rangitata River, fill in the online availability form.

Advice for your application
Before you lodge an application read our consents pages thoroughly.
Gravel-specific tips include: 
  • What volume of gravel is required?
  • Is it for on-going works over a period of several months or years?
  • Is it a one-off take for a particular job?
  • How soon do you need the gravel? Depending on the number of applications in process, there could be a delay.
  • Is the cost involved in obtaining a gravel authorisation or resource consent justified and have you considered any ongoing costs like compliance monitoring? It may be cheaper to source gravel from a local supplier.
  • Please note if your application is to ‘disturb the bed’ primarily for river control purposes it receives a different classification and may not be subject to gravel charges. Contact us with any questions. 
Additionally, we have detailed information on gravel availability in some, but not all, rivers throughout the region. It may be that the river or area you want to extract from is not subject to regular surveys to determine available volumes, but we may still hold information pertaining to that particular site.
For rivers in which we hold detailed information, we try to maintain a target ‘mean bed level’ over time to ensure the region’s flood protection schemes and other infrastructure are not put at risk. The graph below shows how we define the mean bed level of a river. If not enough gravel is extracted from a river bed, the flood carrying capacity of the waterway can be reduced; if too much gravel is extracted, an increased erosion risk can develop.
Extracting gravel using consents held by Environment Canterbury
We hold resource consents for gravel extraction in areas where there is an excess of gravel which needs to be removed for flood mitigation purposes.
It is possible to obtain permits to work under our resource consents. Contact us for further information.
Further, it is a permitted activity for us to extract gravel for flood protection purposes and in many cases we are able to allow contractors to work on our behalf with a special permission called a gravel authorisation (PDF File, 1.32MB).
South Canterbury gravel agreement
In South Canterbury (Rangitata River and south), Environment Canterbury and members of the gravel extraction industry have signed the South Canterbury gravel agreement.
This limits consents and authorisations to a maximum volume of 30,000 cubic metres and duration of 12 months enabling better flood management in rivers and creating a level playing field for signatories.
To ensure the success of the agreement we require that any new gravel extractors to become signatories prior to applying for a consent or authorisation.
Contact us for more information. 
Gravel Liaison Committee contacts
The Gravel Liaison Committee is an advisory organisation set up to facilitate and communicate information relating to river-based gravel extraction. The 12-member committee is divided across four regions.
Northern management area
River Rating District Representative
Cr David Holmes (Kaikoura District Council)
03 319 5604
027 265 9063

Gravel Extraction Industry Representative
Steve Grave (Fulton Hogan)
03 357 3657
027 341 369
steve.grave@fultonhogan.com

Waimakariri/Ashley management area
River Rating District Representative
Cr John Meyer (Waimakariri District Council)
03 327 8115
john.meyer@wmk.govt.nz

Gravel Extraction Industry Representative
Brett Swain (Southern Screenworks)
03 312 2523
0274 353 979
brett@southernscreenworks.co.nz

Central management area
River Rating District Representative
Barry Austin
03 303 6366
0274 344 041
danesbury@xtra.co.nz

Gravel Extraction Industry Representative
Dave Rowlands (Ashburton Contracting Ltd)
03 308 4079
0274 841 114
davidr@ashcon.co.nz

Southern management area
River Rating District Representative
David Moore
03 615 9384

Gravel Extraction Industry Representative
George Kelcher (Road Metals Ltd)
03 437 0458
021 350 880
george@roadmetals.co.nz

Ngai Tahu
Tanya Stevens
0800 524 8248
tanya.Stevens@ngaitahu.iwi.nz

Fish and Game North Canterbury
Scott Pearson
03 313 5728
spearson@fishandgame.org.nz

Fish and Game Central South Island
Bridget Pringle
03 615 8400
csi@fishandgame.org.nz

Department of Conservation
Phil Keene
03 371 3778
pkeene@doc.govt.nz

Environment Canterbury
Councillor representative
0800 266 647
ecinfo@ecan.govt.nz

Can I get an exemption from the gravel charge?
Yes, but only if it is a small quantity as permitted under the relevant regional plan.
There are no other exemptions from gravel charges for gravel taken under a resource consent or gravel authorisation.
However, a resource consent issued for the maintenance of waterway capacity in the immediate vicinity of culverts and other similar structures, where the gravel is not removed from the river bed, will be considered on an individual basis.
Can I surrender my gravel take consent if I no longer require it?
If you no longer require the consent it can be surrendered or transferred to another user.
These forms can be found under the 'general process forms' tab here