Essential Freshwater package and Canterbury rules – FAQs

Updated 8 April 2021

We are collating responses to the most frequently asked questions on the Essential Freshwater package – from farmers in particular.  More FAQs will be added as responses become available  and responses may be modified in light of any new information or advice received.

If you have further questions, please send them to ecinfo@ecan.govt.nz. We may not be in a position to answer these immediately but will come back to you with an indication of when an answer may become available or direct you to where a suitable answer may be found.

Topics covered:

Te Mana o te Wai

What is Te Mana o te Wai?
The concept of Te Mana o te Wai is central to the Essential Freshwater package.
It refers to the vital importance of water and the need to ensure that freshwater is managed in a way that prioritises (in this order):
  • the health and well-being of water
  • the health needs of people
  • the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being.
How is Te Mana o te Wai expressed in the Essential Freshwater package?
The new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) establishes a set of guiding principles and a hierarchy of obligations. It refers to the essential value of water, and the importance of sustaining the health and well-being of water before providing for human health needs, and then other uses.
The NPS-FM strengthens and clarifies Te Mana o te Wai by requiring regional councils to:
  • set a long-term vision (inter-generational) for the water that is informed by aspirations of tangata whenua and communities for what the waterbodies should look like in future, an understanding of current pressures, and an understanding of the waterbodies' history
  • report on progress towards the long-term vision
  • investigate options for tangata whenua involvement such as joint management agreements, and publicly report on decisions around whether to use these options.
What is Environment Canterbury doing to implement Te Mana o te Wai, particularly with resource consent applicants?
We are working with our partner Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Papatipu Rūnanga to build our understanding of Te Mana o te Wai in Canterbury, and how this should be given effect to. As we build this understanding, we will update our guidance to help those applying for resource consents.
People making decisions on consents must now have regard to the relevant provisions of the NPS-FM and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F). The decision-maker must weigh up several factors.
Considerable weight must be given to the principles of Te Mana o te Wai, and the requirement to put the health and well-being of freshwater first, then human health, and finally the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being.
To appropriately incorporate this new direction into the decisions we make on resource consents, we need people applying for consent, or with consents in process, to assess the relevant provisions of these documents, and particularly how their proposed activities give effect to Te Mana o te Wai and the hierarchy of obligations (see above).
We also need people to check whether they require consent under the NES-F, and to apply for those consents when they apply for any consents they need under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan.
To help people with these requirements, we will be contacting those with consents in process to explain what we need and why (PDF File, 199.62KB) and we will also be working closely with consultant groups.
Further detailed guidance will be provided as we work through understanding how the national direction and Te Mana o te Wai should be implemented.

General

What activities are covered by the new rules in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F)?
The NES-F contains a new set of rules that cover these activities:
  • Feedlots
  • Stockholding areas
  • Agricultural intensification, including:
    • Conversions of plantation forestry to pastoral land use
    • Conversions to dairy farmland
    • New irrigation of dairy farmland
    • Using land for dairy support
  • Intensive winter grazing
  • Applying synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land
  • Activities that affect natural wetlands, including vegetation clearance and earthworks, and taking, damming, diverting or discharging water (not just within an agricultural setting)
  • Reclamation of riverbeds
  • Fish passage affected by structures within a river, including rules around installing culverts, weirs and passive flap gates.
See also the definitions in the NES-F.
When do the rules in the NES-F apply?
Most of the rules in the NES-F have effect from 3 September 2020. This means they need to be complied with from this date. However, some of the rules for certain activities don’t come into effect until later. Dates for different activities:
3 September 2020 – all activities in the NES-F other than intensive winter grazing, applications of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and stockholding areas other than feedlots.
1 May 2021 – intensive winter grazing activities. However, if consent is required for existing intensive winter grazing, the application must be submitted by 31 October 2021.
1 July 2021 – the application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and using land for stockholding areas other than feedlots. However, if an existing activity now needs consent, the application must be submitted by 31 December 2021.
Do the rules in the NES-F apply to all farms?
The NES-F rules relating to feedlots, stock-holding areas, intensive winter grazing and applications of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser only apply to farms on which:
  • 20ha or more is in arable use; or
  • 20ha or more is in pastoral use; or
  • 5ha or more is in horticultural use; or
  • 20ha or more is a combination of 2 or more of the land uses described above.

The NES-F rules regulating agricultural intensification apply to farms of all sizes.

Do the new rules need to be incorporated into Environment Canterbury plans before they apply?
No. In time we will align our plans with the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) and the NES-F, but the NES-F rules apply from the dates mentioned above. So currently, any relevant activity will need to be assessed under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan and the NES-F.

Intensive winter grazing

What is intensive winter grazing?
Intensive winter grazing is defined in the NES-F as “grazing livestock on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends with the close of 30 September of the same year”.
Which rules do I need to comply with?
In addition to the rules introduced by the NES-F, you will need to make sure you comply with any rules relating to farming land use consents or stock exclusion in the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan, which includes a definition of winter grazing that is different from the NES-F definition.
When do I have to comply with the new intensive winter grazing rules?
The requirement for resource consent for existing intensive winter grazing was previously required from 1 May 2021 but now will not take effect until 1 May 2022. Read more on beehive.govt.nz. 

If existing intensive winter grazing has been happening on farm before 1 May 2022 and will need a resource consent after that date, you have until 31 October 2022 to submit your application - provided the effects of the intensive winter grazing are the same or similar in character, scale and intensity to the way it was previously undertaken.


Expansions of intensive winter grazing will still require resource consent from 1 May 2021.

How much of my land can be used for intensive winter grazing?
If you are to intensively winter graze without a resource consent (from May 2021), the area you use must not exceed 50ha or 10% of the farm, whichever is greater. It must also meet other conditions set out below. If you cannot meet these conditions, you can still apply for a resource consent for intensive winter grazing.
What are the requirements for permitted activity (no consent) intensive winter grazing?
To be a permitted activity, your intensive winter grazing must comply with these conditions:
  • the area used must not exceed 50ha or 10% of the farm, whichever is greater; and
  • the slope of the paddock must not exceed 10 degrees; and
  • any paddock used for intensive winter grazing cannot result in pugging deeper than 20cm at any point, while pugging that is 5cm or deeper cannot cover more than 50% of the paddock; and
  • livestock must be kept at least 5m from the bed of any river, lake, wetland, or drain (regardless of whether there is any water in it at the time); and
  • land used for intensive winter grazing must be replanted as soon as practicable after livestock have grazed the land’s annual forage crop (but no later than 1 October of the same year); and
  • the total area used for intensive winter grazing must be no greater than the maximum area used for intensive winter grazing in any single season between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2019.
Does the permitted activity requirement limiting a farm’s intensive winter grazing to the greater of 50ha or 10% apply at farm level or per title?
It applies to a farm. Farm is defined in the NES-F as “a landholding whose activities include agriculture”. Landholding means “1 or more parcels of land (whether or not they are contiguous) that are managed as a single operation”.
The new rules say I have to replant by a certain time after my wintering is finished. Does it have to be a certain crop?
Replanting after winter grazing has finished can significantly reduce the risk of soil erosion and nutrient leaching from the paddock, as this can be exacerbated when left fallow.
In Canterbury, replanting needs to happen as soon as practicable after grazing has finished or by 1 October of the same year. The crop will need to be sown by this date, rather than being fully established.
There is no specification in the rules about what type of crop needs to be replanted, but there is guidance from industry bodies such as DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb. This can depend on soil types, climate and what you could use the replanted crop for.
The aim is to capture nutrients in the second crop and protect the environment by reducing the risk of nutrient loss to water or erosion of soil – replanting should be adequate to address this.
What land uses do the pugging standards apply to?
The pugging standards only apply to intensive winter grazing.
Once the new rules apply, can I only intensively winter graze in the same paddocks each year?
No, there is nothing to stop you moving your wintering paddocks around the farm each season. You will need to make sure you still meet the relevant requirements for each season however - slope, total area, proximity to waterways. If you obtain a resource consent, the effects on the environment from the proposed locations will probably be assessed through the application process.
What about the option of having a Certified Freshwater Farm Plan rather than getting a new consent for intensive winter grazing?
In future, a Certified Freshwater Farm Plan will be an alternative under the NES-F rules to obtaining a consent or meeting the permitted activity conditions. However, the standards for the Freshwater Farm Plan and the certification process are still being developed. In the meantime, the rules must still be met.
How do I work out the mean slope of my paddock?
The guidance to how to measure slope of a paddock is still being worked on. However, note that the Low Slope Land Viewer RM (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020 map should not be used to determine paddock slope for winter grazing. This map was produced in relation to the stock exclusion regulations (and uses the LINZ Primary Parcel Area) which is not a suitable scale for determining slope of a paddock as required under the intensive winter grazing regulations.
What is meant by “annual forage crop”? Does annual ryegrass fall under the definition?
The NES-F defines annual forage crop as “a crop, other than pasture, that is grazed in the place where it is grown”.

Because ryegrass is a pasture, an annual ryegrass crop would not be considered an annual forage crop.

What will an intensive winter grazing consent look like for Canterbury farmers and how do I apply?
We are currently working to determine what an intensive winter grazing consent will look like, and how it could work with the current Farming Land Use Consent, Farm Environment Plan (FEP) and FEP Audit framework that Canterbury farmers are already implementing. We will provide further information on consents, consent applications and relevant processes as it becomes available.
I already have a Farming Land Use Consent and have had a Farm Environment Plan audit that covered winter grazing on my farm. Does this mean the new rules will not apply to me?
No. You still need to meet the new rules, whether by meeting the permitted activity conditions or obtaining a new intensive winter grazing consent. These are in addition to Canterbury rules or any consents you already have. This applies to farms managed under an irrigation scheme.

Cap for synthetic nitrogen fertiliser application

What is the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser cap?
The new regulations have introduced a cap on the application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser at a rate of no more than 190 kg N/ha/year.
Does the cap apply to all farming types?
No, it only applies when the application relates to pastoral land use, which is defined as “the grazing of livestock”. This does not include grazing on the stubble of a crop that has been harvested after arable land use.
Does the nitrogen cap apply to the farm as a whole, or to each hectare?
It applies to both. The 190 kg N/ha/year application rate cap applies:
  • as an average over the entire property; and
  • to each hectare (excluding land used to grow annual forage crops).
When does the nitrogen cap come into force?
The synthetic nitrogen fertiliser cap takes effect from 1 July 2021. If you can comply with the cap after that date, you are a permitted activity and do not need a resource consent. Where you are unable to comply with the cap, you will need to apply for a resource consent by 31 December 2021.
Does the nitrogen cap still apply if I already have a resource consent to farm?

Yes. If you have a resource consent for the use of land for farming, you will still need to comply with rules in the NES-F that restrict applications of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser on to pastoral farms. If you cannot comply with the nitrogen cap (190 kg N/ha/yr), you will need to apply for an additional resource consent.

What if I can’t meet the nitrogen cap?

If at 1 July 2021, you cannot meet the 190 kg N/ha/yr cap (at both property and hectare level), you will need to apply for a resource consent.

If you intend to reduce synthetic nitrogen applications below the nitrogen cap but need more time, you can apply for a short duration consent to cover the transition period. The property would need to be operating at or below the nitrogen cap by 1 July 2023. Alternatively, consent can be sought for a longer duration (a maximum of 5 years), but in this case a more comprehensive application would be required.

Do I need to report to Environment Canterbury on this? How do I do so?
Dairy farmers are required to report on their annual use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser after the cap comes into effect on 31 July 2021. More detail on this reporting is being developed and will be available before the first reporting date.

Rules for rivers

How are rivers defined in the NPS-FM, the Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020, and the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP)?

The LWRP defines a river in the same way as the Resource Management Act (RMA) as:

A continually or intermittently flowing body of fresh water; and includes a stream and modified watercourse; but does not include any artificial watercourse (including an irrigation canal, water supply race, canal for the supply of water for electricity power generation, and farm drainage canal).

The NPS-FM does not define a river.

However, the Stock Exclusion Regulations refer to “wide rivers” and define them as:

A river (as defined in the Act) with a bed that is wider than one metre anywhere in a land parcel.

Do the rules in the LWRP still apply to rivers and lakes?
Yes.  An activity affecting rivers or lakes must comply with the LWRP rules as well as the requirements of the Essential Freshwater package.
What is the Essential Freshwater package seeking to achieve for rivers?

The Essential Freshwater package aims to avoid any further loss or degradation of riverbed habitat and values by ensuring that:

  • Activities that may result in these losses are avoided if at all possible; but
  • Where there is a functional need for an activity to occur, there is an “Effects Management Hierarchy” that must be followed. This should be addressed as part of any application for resource consent that may affect river values.

The Effects Management Hierarchy, in relation to natural inland wetlands and rivers, is an approach to managing the adverse effects of an activity on the extent or values of a wetland or river (including cumulative effects and loss of potential value).  It requires that:

a)   adverse effects are avoided where practicable; and

b)   where adverse effects cannot be avoided, they are minimised where practicable; and

c)   where adverse effects cannot be minimised, they are remedied where practicable; and

d)   where more than minor residual adverse effects cannot be avoided, minimised or remedied, aquatic offsetting is provided where possible; and

e)   if aquatic offsetting of more than minor residual adverse effects is not possible, aquatic compensation is provided; and

f)    if aquatic compensation is not appropriate, the activity itself is avoided.

What are aquatic offsetting and aquatic compensation?

These are defined as follows:

Aquatic compensation means a conservation outcome resulting from actions that are intended to compensate for any more than minor residual adverse effects on a wetland or river after all appropriate avoidance, minimisation, remediation, and aquatic offset measures have been sequentially applied.

Aquatic offset means a measurable conservation outcome resulting from actions that are intended to:

a) redress any more than minor residual adverse effects on a wetland or river after all appropriate avoidance, minimisation, and remediation, measures have been sequentially applied; and

b) achieve no net loss, and preferably a net gain, in the extent and values of the wetland or river, where:

      i) no net loss means that the measurable positive effects of actions match any loss of extent or values over space and time, taking into account the type and location of the wetland or river; and

      ii) net gain means that the measurable positive effects of actions exceed the point of no net loss.

Rules for wetlands

How are wetlands defined in the NPS-FM and LWRP?

The LWRP defines a wetland as including:

1. wetlands which are part of river, stream and lake beds; 
2. natural ponds, swamps, marshes, fens, bogs, seeps, brackish areas, mountain wetlands, and other naturally wet areas that support an indigenous ecosystem of plants and animals specifically adapted to living in wet conditions, and provide a habitat for wildlife; 
3. coastal wetlands above mean high water springs; 

but excludes: 
a) wet pasture or where water temporarily ponds after rainfall; 
b) artificial wetlands used for wastewater or stormwater treatment except where they are listed in Sections 6 to 15 of this Plan; 
c) artificial farm dams, drainage canals and detention dams; and 
d) reservoirs for firefighting, domestic or community water supply.

The NPS-FM refers to a "natural wetland" as meaning:

A wetland (as defined in the Act) that is not:
a) a wetland constructed by artificial means (unless it was constructed to offset impacts on, or restore, an existing or former natural wetland); or
b) a geothermal wetland; or
c) any area of improved pasture that, at the commencement date, is dominated by (that is more than 50 percent of) exotic pasture species and is subject to temporary rain-derived water pooling.

The above refers to the definition of wetland in the RMA, which reads:

Includes permanently or intermittently wet areas, shallow water, and land water margins that support a natural ecosystem of plants and animals that are adapted to wet conditions.

The NPS-FM also separately defines a “natural inland wetland” as comprising a "natural wetland" that is not within the coastal marine area.

See the Ministry for the Environment’s Wetlands factsheet for more information on the management of wetlands under the Essential Freshwater package.

Do the LWRP rules still apply to wetlands?
Yes.  An activity affecting wetlands must comply with the LWRP rules as well as the requirements of the Essential Freshwater package.
What is the Essential Freshwater package seeking to achieve for wetlands?

The Essential Freshwater package aims to halt the ongoing loss of wetlands and their values by ensuring that:

  • Activities that may result in losses of natural wetlands are avoided where at all possible, although there are some limited exemptions; and
  • Where those exemptions are met, activities are subject to the “Effects Management Hierarchy”.

The Effects Management Hierarchy, in relation to natural inland wetlands and rivers, means an approach to managing the adverse effects of an activity on the extent or values of a wetland or river (including cumulative effects and loss of potential value) that requires that:

a) adverse effects are avoided where practicable; and

b) where adverse effects cannot be avoided, they are minimised where practicable; and

c) where adverse effects cannot be minimised, they are remedied where practicable; and

d) where more than minor residual adverse effects cannot be avoided, minimised, or remedied, aquatic offsetting is provided where possible; and

e) if aquatic offsetting of more than minor residual adverse effects is not possible, aquatic compensation is provided; and

f) if aquatic compensation is not appropriate, the activity itself is avoided.

The NES-F includes controls on activities within 100 metres of a natural wetland.  In addition, the Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020 include controls on stock within wetlands.  It is important to check the Essential Freshwater package requirements and the requirements of regional plan(s) before undertaking any activities within 100 metres of wetlands to determine which controls apply and whether a resource consent is required.

What are aquatic offsetting and aquatic compensation?

These are defined as follows:

Aquatic compensation means a conservation outcome resulting from actions that are intended to compensate for any more than minor residual adverse effects on a wetland or river after all appropriate avoidance, minimisation, remediation, and aquatic offset measures have been sequentially applied.

Aquatic offset means a measurable conservation outcome resulting from actions that are intended to:

a) redress any more than minor residual adverse effects on a wetland or river after all appropriate avoidance, minimisation, and remediation, measures have been sequentially applied; and

b) achieve no net loss, and preferably a net gain, in the extent and values of the wetland or river, where:

     i) no net loss means that the measurable positive effects of actions match any loss of extent or values over space and time, taking into account the type and location of the wetland or river; and

     ii) net gain means that the measurable positive effects of actions exceed the point of no net loss.

Do I need a consent for wetland restoration under the new rules?
The following are permitted activities under the NES-F, provided they are for wetland restoration and the activity does not happen over 500 m² or 10% of the area of the wetland, whichever is smaller:
  • Vegetation clearance within a wetland, or within a 10 m setback from a wetland;
  • Earthworks or land disturbance within a wetland, or within a 10 m setback from a wetland;
  • Taking, use, damming, diversion, or discharge of water within a wetland, or within a 100 m setback from a wetland.
Further, the activity must comply with the general conditions on works within wetlands in Regulation 55 (see below).
Do I need a consent under the new rules for scientific research within, or within a setback from, a wetland?
The following activities are permitted under the NES-F provided they are for scientific investigation:
  • Vegetation clearance and earthworks and land disturbance within, or within a 10 m setback from, a wetland; and
  • The taking, use, damming, diversion, or discharge of water within, or within a 100 m setback from, a wetland.
The activities must also comply with these requirements:
  • a.) The general conditions on wetland activities in Regulation 55 (see below); and
  • b.) The activity does not result in new pathways or other accessways; and
  • c.) If the activity is vegetation clearance, earthworks or land disturbance the activity must not:

a. Occur over a single area within the wetland that is more than 10 m²; or

b. Occur over a total area within the wetland that is more than 100 m²;

The last condition does not apply if the earthworks or land disturbance is for planting.

Where the above conditions cannot be met, an activity being conducted for scientific research within or within a setback from a wetland becomes a restricted discretionary activity.

What are the Regulation 55 requirements?
Under Regulation 55 of the NES-F, the person responsible for undertaking the activity must alert the Council in writing at least 10 working days before the activity takes place.
Further, the general conditions in Regulation 55 relating to water quality and movement state that the activity:
  • Must not result in discharge of contaminants; and
  • Must not increase the level of floodwaters that would inundate any part of the 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) floodplain; and
  • Must not involve taking or discharging water to or from any wetland;
  • Must not involve taking or discharging water to or from any wetland; and
  • Debris and sediment must not be allowed within, or within a 10 m setback of, any wetland.
Where the activity involves temporary taking, use, damming, or diversion of water around a worksite, conditions include:
  • Timing the activity to ensure low risk of flooding
  • Limiting the duration of the activity for only as long as necessary to achieve its purpose
  • Recording the original condition of the affected wetland/s (eg photographs)
  • Restricting dam heights to no more than 600 m
  • Limiting the maximum mesh spacing on any fish screen to no more than 3 mm on the intake.
Where the activity involves earthworks, land disturbance, and vegetation clearance, conditions include:
  • During and after the activity, erosion and sediment control measures must be applied and maintained at the site
  • Stabilising or containing soil that is exposed or disturbed by the activity as soon as practicable after the activity ends
  • The above measure must remain in place until the site reaches 80% vegetation cover
  • If the activity is vegetation clearance, it must not result in earth remaining bare for longer than 3 months.
Where the activity involves vegetation and bird and fish habitats, conditions include:
  • Only indigenous species appropriate to a wetland may be planted
  • The activity must not result in the smothering of indigenous vegetation by debris and sediment, and the activity must not disturb the roosting or nesting of indigenous birds during their breeding season
  • The activity must not disturb an area listed in the Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP) or any water conservation order as a habitat for threatened indigenous fish
  • The activity must not, during a spawning season, disturb an area that is listed in the LWRP or a water conservation order as a fish spawning area.
Regulation 55 also contains general conditions relating to machinery, vehicles, equipment, and construction materials, as well as historic heritage - see the NES-F for more information.
The LWRP also includes rules that manage wetlands.
When do the wetlands rules not apply?
The subpart of the NES-F relating to wetlands does not apply to the customary harvest of food or resources undertaken in accordance with tikanga Māori.

Stock exclusion

How is stock exclusion defined in the Essential Freshwater package? Do the requirements to exclude stock apply to intermittent rivers, drains and stockwater races?

The Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020, part of the Essential Freshwater package, require stock to be excluded from lakes and "wide rivers", with a three-metre minimum setback. See the next question for the definition.

The three-metre minimum setback does not apply where a permanent fence was already in place on 3 September 2020. A “permanent fence” is defined in the Stock Exclusion Regulations as:

a) a post and batten fence with driven or dug fence posts; or

b) an electric fence with at least 2 electrified wires and driven or dug fence posts; or

c) a deer fence.

The Stock Exclusion Regulations define "wide rivers" as a river with a bed wider than one metre anywhere within a land parcel.  A river is defined the same way as in the RMA and includes both flowing rivers and intermittently flowing rivers. The definition does not extend to drains or stockwater races. However, the correct classification of a waterbody is not always obvious. If in doubt, contact us.

While stock exclusion under the Stock Exclusion Regulations also applies to wetlands, the setback distance does not apply.

The date from which stock must be excluded from rivers and wetlands varies depending on the type of stock and the circumstances. The LWRP also includes requirements for stock exclusion from waterbodies.

How is stock defined in the Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020 and is it also defined in the LWRP?

The Stock Exclusion Regulations define "stock" as:

a) beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, deer, or pigs; and
b) to avoid doubt, does not include any feral animal.

The Stock Exclusion Regulations do not apply to sheep.

For beef cattle and deer, the definition of "intensively grazing" is:

a) break feeding; or
b) grazing on annual forage crops; or
c) grazing on pasture that has been irrigated with water in the previous 12 months.

The LWRP has different definitions. It does not define "stock" but defines "intensively farmed stock" as:

1. cattle or deer grazed on irrigated land or contained for break-feeding of winter feed crops;
2. dairy cattle, including cows, whether dry or milking, and whether on irrigated land or not;
3. farmed pigs.

The LWRP also includes rules that apply to sheep in some situations.

What are the rules on stock crossings?

The Stock Exclusion Regulations say stock are allowed to cross rivers and lakes provided they are supervised and actively driven across the waterbody, and provided they do not cross the same river or lake more than twice in any month.

Where stock will be crossing a river or lake more than twice in any month, a dedicated bridge or culvert must be installed.

Under the LWRP, stock crossing is a permitted activity in some circumstances. To ensure resource consent is not required, you should approach us for advice.

What are the stock exclusion rules for pigs in the Stock Exclusion Regulations and the LWRP?

Rivers and lakes

Stock Exclusion Regulations

All new pig operations established on or after 3 September 2020 must exclude pigs from rivers and lakes. By 1 July 2023, all pig farms (including those that existed on 3 September 2020) must exclude pigs from rivers and lakes.

LWRP

Access by pigs to rivers and lakes requires resource consent. 

Wetlands

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new pig operations established on or after this date must exclude pigs from wetlands.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, all pig farms must exclude pigs from natural wetlands identified in an operative (as at 3 September 2020) regional plan, district plan or regional policy statement.
  • 1 July 2025 – all pig farms must exclude pigs from natural wetlands that support “threatened species” and that are larger than 500 square metres on "low slope" land (as shown on MfE maps).

LWRP

Access by pigs to wetlands requires resource consent.

What are the stock exclusion rules for beef cattle in the Stock Exclusion Regulations and the LWRP?

Rivers and lakes

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new beef operations established on or after this date must exclude stock from rivers and lakes.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, beef cattle that are intensively grazed on any terrain must be excluded from rivers and lakes.
  • 1 July 2025 – beef cattle on "low slope” land (as shown on MfE maps) must be excluded from rivers and lakes.

LWRP

Access by beef cattle to rivers and lakes is a permitted activity in some circumstances. To ensure resource consent is not required for any other aspect of the operation, you should approach us for advice.

Wetlands

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020  all new beef operations established on or after this date must exclude stock from wetlands.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, all beef farms must exclude stock from natural wetlands identified (as at 3 September 2020) in the LWRP, a district plan or regional policy statement
  • 1 July 2025 – all beef farms must exclude stock from natural wetlands that support a threatened species (as per the NPS-FM) and that are larger than 500 square metres on "low slope" land (as shown on MfE maps). 

LWRP

Access by beef cattle to wetlands is a permitted activity in some circumstances. To ensure resource consent is not required for any other aspect of the operation, you should approach us for advice.

What are the stock exclusion rules for deer in the Stock Exclusion Regulations and the LWRP?

Rivers and lakes

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new deer operations established on or after this date must exclude stock from rivers and lakes.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, intensively grazed deer must be excluded.
  • 1 July 2025 – deer on "low slope" land (as per MfE maps) must be excluded.

LWRP

Access by deer to rivers and lakes is a permitted activity in some circumstances. To ensure resource consent is not required for any other aspect of the operation, you should approach us for advice.

Wetlands

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – All new deer operations established on or after this date must exclude stock from wetlands.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, deer must be excluded from natural wetlands identified (as at 3 September 2020) in the LWRP, a district plan or regional policy statement.
  • 1 July 2025 – deer must be excluded from natural wetlands that support a threatened species (as per the NPS-FM) and that are larger than 500 square metres on "low slope" land (as shown on MfE maps).

LWRP

Access by deer to wetlands is a permitted activity in some circumstances. To ensure resource consent is not required for any other aspect of the operation, you should approach us for advice.

What are the stock exclusion rules for dairy cows in the Stock Exclusion Regulations and the LWRP?

Rivers and lakes

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new dairy farms established on or after this date must exclude stock from rivers and lakes.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, all existing dairy farms must exclude stock from rivers and lakes.
  • 1 July 2025 – no additional rules apply to dairy cows on this date.

LWRP

Access by dairy cattle to rivers and lakes requires resource consent.

Wetlands

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new dairy farms established on or after this date must exclude stock from wetlands.
  • 1 July 2023 – from this date, dairy cows must be excluded from natural wetlands identified (as at 3 September 2020) in the LWRP, a district plan or regional policy statement.
  • 1 July 2025 – dairy cows must be excluded from natural wetlands that support a "threatened species" (as per the NPS-FM) and that are larger than 500 square metres on "low slope" land (as shown on MfE maps).

LWRP

Access by dairy cattle to wetlands requires resource consent.

How do the new stock exclusion rules affect dairy support cows?

Rivers and lakes

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new dairy support operations established on or after this date must exclude stock from rivers and lakes.
  • 1 July 2023 – no additional rules apply to dairy support cows on this date.
  • 1 July 2025 – by this date, all dairy support operations must exclude stock from rivers and lakes. 

LWRP

Access by dairy support cows to rivers and lakes requires resource consent.

Wetlands

Stock Exclusion Regulations

  • 3 September 2020 – all new dairy support operations established on or after this date must exclude stock from wetlands.
  • 1 July 2023 – by this date, dairy support cows must be excluded from natural wetlands identified (as at 3 September 2020) in the LWRP, a district plan or regional policy statement.
  • 1 July 2025 – dairy support cows must be excluded from natural wetlands that support a "threatened species" (as per the NPS-FM) and that are larger than 500 square metres on "low slope" land (as shown on MfE maps).

LWRP

Access by dairy support cattle to wetlands requires resource consent.

How do the Stock Exclusion Regulations affect sheep?
The Stock Exclusion Regulations do not cover sheep. However, the LWRP includes rules that apply to sheep at both regional and sub-regional levels. 
Read this factsheet (PDF File, 1.36MB) to find out more bout excluding stock from waterways.

Land Use Intensification

Which rules in the Essential Freshwater package relate to land use intensification?
Land use intensification is covered by the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-F).
When did these rules become effective?
The rules came into effect on 3 September 2020.
What are the key definitions, eg “Farm”, “Pastoral land”, “landholding”?

Farm means a landholding the activities on which include agriculture.

Intensive winter grazing means grazing livestock on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends with the close of 30 September of the same year.

Landholding means one or more parcels of land (whether or not they are contiguous) that are managed as a single operation.

Pastoral land means the use of land for the grazing of livestock.

Setback, in relation to an activity in the vicinity of a natural wetland, means the distance measured horizontally from the boundary of the natural wetland that creates a buffer within which the activity cannot take place except in accordance with these regulations.

Dairy cattle:

(a) means cattle farmed for producing milk; and

(b) includes:

(i) any bull on the farm whose purpose is mating with those cattle; and

(ii) unweaned calves of those cattle; but

(c) does not include dairy support cattle.

Dairy farmland means land on a farm that is used for grazing dairy cattle.

Dairy support land means land on a farm that is used for grazing dairy support cattle.

Dairy support cattle means cattle that:

a) Are farmed for producing milk, but are not being milked (for example, because they are heifers or have been dried off); and

b) Are grazed on land that is not grazed by dairy cattle.

What intensification activities require consent under the NES-F?
Consent is required to convert more than:
  • 10 ha of plantation forestry to pastoral land use;
  • 10 ha of farmland to dairy farmland;
  • 10 ha of non-irrigated dairy farmland to irrigated dairy farmland.
Any conversion or intensification (as above) that happened before 3 September 2020 does not need a resource consent under the NES-F.
Any increase in the amount of land used for dairy support, above the maximum that was used between 2014 and 2019, also requires resource consent.
For example, if a farm that usually designated 25 ha for dairy support during the reference period during 2017 increased the area of dairy support to 30 ha, the farmer could continue to use 30 ha for dairy support.
Do I need consent for my existing irrigation?

A resource consent is not required to continue existing irrigation of dairy farm land under the NES-F provided that the farm was being irrigated in the 12 months before 2 September 2020, and provided that at all times the area of the farm to be irrigated does not exceed:

  • the maximum area of the farm irrigated in that 12-month period; plus
  • 10 hectares.
What are the rules for intensive winter grazing?

From 1 May 2021, use of land for intensive winter grazing is a permitted activity if:

  • land on the farm was used for intensive winter grazing at some point during the “reference period” (1 July 2014 – 30 June 2019);
  • the area of the farm formerly used for intensive winter grazing does not exceed the maximum area of the farm used for intensive winter grazing during the reference period; and
  • it is undertaken in accordance with either (1) or (2):

1) a) The area used for intensive winter grazing is no greater than 50 ha or 10% of the farm (whichever is greater); and

b) The mean slope of any paddock used for intensive winter grazing cannot exceed 10 degrees; and

c) Pugging from the activity must not exceed 20 cm (except within 10 m of gates and troughs), and must not cover more than 50% of the paddock; and

d) Livestock must be kept at least 5 m from waterways; and

e) Land used for the intensive winter grazing must be replanted as soon as practicable after grazing, but no later than 1 October of the same year; or

2) Once available, a certified freshwater farm plan and the certifier of that plan certifies that any adverse effects are no greater than if it was undertaken in accordance with option 1.

The use of land for intensive winter grazing is a discretionary activity if it does not comply with the above conditions.

What are the rules relating to stockholding areas?

Using land for holding cattle in a stockholding area (other than a feedlot area) is a permitted activity under the NES-F provided this condition can be met:

90% of the cattle in the stockholding area must:

a) Be no more than 4 months old; or

b) Weigh no more than 120 kg.

Further, land may be used for holding larger and older cattle in a stockholding area (other than a feedlot) and it is also a permitted activity if it does not meet the above rules but complies with one of the following two conditions:

Either:

The holding of cattle in the stockholding area must be in accordance with the farm’s certified freshwater plan if:

a) The farm has a freshwater farm plan that applies to holding cattle in the stockholding area; and

b) A certifier has stated that the adverse effects allowed for by the plan in relation to the holding of cattle in the stockholding area are no greater than those allowed in the following condition.

Or:

a) The base area of the stockholding area must be sealed to a minimum permeability standard of 10-9 m/s; and

b) Effluent expelled in the stockholding area must be collected, stored and disposed of in accordance with a rule in the Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP) or a resource consent; and

c) The stockholding area must be at least 50 m away from any waterbody, any water abstraction bore, any drain, and the coastal marine area.

Where the above conditions cannot be met, holding cattle in a stockholding area becomes a discretionary activity under the NES-F.

Farmers should also refer to the LWRP, which includes additional rules managing stockholding areas.

More information