Essential Freshwater Package
In August 2020, the Government announced changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), the National Environmental Standard for Freshwater (NES-FW) and changes to the Resource Management Act.
There are a number of areas within the NES-FW that came into force on 3 September 2020. Here we provide more comprehensive guidance on the regulations relating to changes to wetlands and rivers, intensive winter grazing, intensification, stockholding areas and stock exclusion. Please call our consents team for specific advice on your activities.
We continue to coordinate with industry groups, business, consultants and others to discuss the requirements and get their input into solutions that could work for Southland.
We know there’s a lot of confusion and anxiety about these changes and what they mean, so we’re going to share as much information as we can, as often as we can, in clear and meaningful ways.
Advice - Intensive winter grazing (deferred to May 2022)
Our website now features a cultivation and intensive winter grazing mapping tool; a checklist to see whether resource consent is required; and an online resource consent application process. Check them out here.
If you carried out winter grazing in 2020 and you're not planning on making any changes to the scale, scope or intensity of your wintering, then you may have what's called 'Existing use rights'.
If this applies to your situation, this means that there is a 6-month period from the point when the wintering regulations come into force - 1 May 2022 - to apply for consent. You may be able to carry out your winter grazing next year, but you may need to apply for a consent under the new rules by 31 October 2022.
If you're thinking ahead or you don't have existing use rights - check out the handy Guide to intensive winter grazing without a consent. This outlines all the criteria you need to meet to winter graze without a consent.
Proposed changes to wintering rules
The Government has announced it's seeking feedback on some proposed changes to the intensive winter grazing rules within the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.
Environment Southland welcomes the Government’s proposed changes as they look to make the intensive winter grazing rules more practical for councils and farmers to apply and comply with.
Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said, “We can see that the Government has carefully considered the recommendations from the Southland Advisory Group and I believe the changes will be largely welcomed by the farming community.”
Read the consultation document here, and submit your views by 7 October 2021.
In summary the amendments to the permitted activity conditions include:
- To remove the date for resowing, change to as soon as practical
- To remove the specifics on pugging, change to take reasonable practical steps to avoid
- To remove subsurface drains from the definition of drains
- Change measurement of slope to maximum allowable slope rather than mean slope (retain 10-degree threshold)
- Include new condition to protect critical source areas
A further 6-month deferral to the commencement of the regulations is also proposed, now beginning on 1 November 2022.
Report to Minister
As part of deferring the implementation of the winter rules in the NES-F, Minister Parker requested quarterly reports from Environment Southland on our activities to improve the practice.
Southland Intensive Winter Grazing Advisory Group
The Southland Intensive Winter Grazing Advisory Group was established following a meeting with the Ministers in September and asked to look at the implementation of the intensive winter grazing rules within the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.
The group included several farmers, and staff from Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fish and Game and Environment Southland, who have worked together on finding practical solutions to some of the issues raised with implementing the regulations across the country.
The groups' recommendations were presented to Ministers in December 2020. Read more in the media release here.
The Minister announced his decisions on the advice received from the Southland Advisory Group and from around the country, extending the implementation of much of the IWG rules until 1 May 2022. Read more here.
Advice - Stock exclusion
Stock exclusion from waterways is required under both the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan and the regulations that form part of the Essential Freshwater package.
The rules in Southland’s proposed plan and the national regulations do not fit well together, so if you’d like to chat through your specific situation, please give our consents team a call on 0800 76 88 45.
Check out this factsheet for more information on our rules and those in the national legislation > Download the stock exclusion factsheet.
Advice - Nitrogen cap
The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater has introduced a limit to the amount of nitrogen that can be applied to land.
From July 2021 if the use of nitrogen fertiliser on pastoral land exceeds 190 kg/ha/year then a consent will be required. This cap does not apply to arable or horticultural land use.
New reporting requirements
The National Environmental Standards require any person operating a dairy farm to report to Council each year on their nitrogen fertiliser use. This reporting includes information on the types of fertiliser used, the rate of application and the location and date of application. This reporting requirement starts on 30 June 2021 with the first reports due in by 31 July 2022. While we are developing an online form for farmers to report this information to Council, we recommend you keep a note each month of your fertiliser application.
If you need a consent, give us a call to chat through the process. As part of the application, you will need to show that:
- through a synthetic nitrogen reduction plan you will reduce your fertiliser use each year so by July 2023 it is no longer exceeding the cap; or
- by ensuring the rate at which nitrogen may enter water does not exceed the baseline rate (the rate of nitrogen entering water if the nitrogen cap is met).
The standards in the National Environmental Standards are in addition to the permitted activity criteria in the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan and any discharge of fertiliser still needs to meet the conditions in Rule 14.
Other useful information
Environment Southland’s policy and planning manager has given a few presentations recently on the new Essential Freshwater package and the proposed plan. The slides from this presentation are now available online. Any questions, please give us a call on 0800 76 88 45. > Click to download the slides.
Government policy documents
- National Policy Statement Freshwater Management (NPS-FM)
- National Environmental Standards (NES)
- Stock exclusion regulations
- Farm Plan regulations
- Measurement and reporting of water takes regulation
Other information from the Ministry for the Environment includes:
- Overview of the essential freshwater new rules and regulations
- Summary of the Government’s essential freshwater policies
- Support and advice available for farmers and communities
- Summary - Action for Healthy Waterways - Information for Horticultural Growers
- Summary - Action for Healthy Waterways - Information for iwi and Maori
People, Water and Land programme
Find out about the People, Water and Land programme - Te Mana of te Tangata, te Wai, te Whenua and the work being done. This programme has been designed to ensure we can meet the community expectations for our waterways, and those of the Government. You can read more about the things that Southlanders told us were important to them about our waterways (the values) and learn more about the goals (outcomes) we're aiming to achieve by improving, protecting and restoring our waterways. https://waterandland.es.govt.nz/