Freshwater Farm Plans

Here's all the information about the new Freshwater Farm Plans.

What are Freshwater Farm Plans?

Freshwater farm plans (FWFPs) are being introduced by the Government as a way for farmers to address and manage on-farm risks to freshwater. FWFPs will identify practical actions on-farm that help improve our local waterways.

The regulations

Freshwater farm plan regulations were introduced in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-FW) as part of the Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms

Actions in FWFPs will be tailored to a particular farm’s physical environment and what is important in the catchment that farm is in and the plans will demonstrate how farmers are meeting regulatory requirements such as rules on nitrogen fertiliser, stock exclusion and intensive winter grazing. 

So far, the Government has indicated that freshwater farm plan framework will be introduced in Taranaki in mid-2024 with the preparation of FWFPs to start after 1 January 2025. Until then, landowners are expected to continue implementing their existing Hill Country Farm Plans and Riparian  Management Plans prepared by TRC to manage environmental risks.

No action is required until the Government has finalised the regulations which is expected to be completed within the next few months. Once that has
happened, we will get in touch with you about what the next steps are. 

It's also worth noting that FWFPs may become a section within the integrated farm plan framework. Integrated farm planning will provide a single framework for a farmer to bring together all their farm planning requirements into one place. But it is not a regulatory tool. The aim of the integrated approach to farm planning is to streamline compliance, reduce duplication, and provide a structured approach for farmers and growers to lift performance.

Useful links

Ministry for the Environment (MfE) webpage(external link)

The Essential Freshwater reforms: a quick guide

The Government’s Essential Freshwater reform package aims to protect and improve our rivers, streams and wetlands to stop further degradation of freshwater, start making immediate improvements and reverse past damage to bring our waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM 2020) sets out the policies and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW) establishes the regulations to achieve this.

What this means for people in Taranaki is requirements are being set for those carrying out certain activities that pose risks to freshwater and freshwater ecosystems. Anyone carrying out these activities will need to comply with the standards and, in many cases, people need to apply for a resource consent from the Council to continue carrying out regulated activities.

All of this is underpinned by Te Mana o te Wai(external link) (the mana of the water). Te Mana o te Wai means that when managing freshwater, the health and well-being of the water is protected and human health needs are provided for before enabling other uses of water.