Agricultural intensification rules

Here's all the information about the rules around agricultural intensification.

What is agricultural intensification?

Agricultural intensification includes conversions of plantation forestry to pastoral land use and any land to dairy farmland. Intensification can lead to higher levels of nutrients, sediment and microbial contamination in our rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater.

The regulations

Regulations to control the effects of agricultural intensification were introduced in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-FW) as part of the Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms and came into effect on 3 September 2020. The regulations are temporary and apply until 1 January 2025, or when the Council notifies its Natural Resources Plan (whichever date is earliest).

A resource consent is required if you want to undertake any of the following activities: 

  • Converting more than 10ha of land to more intensive land use
  • Increase the area of land used for dairy support above the highest annual amount used from any prior year between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2019. 

To acquire resource consent, landowners must demonstrate that the contaminant load will not increase and contaminant concentration in receiving environments will not increase (compared to levels pre 3 September 2020).

Converting less than 10ha of land to more intensive land use is a permitted activity and resource consent is not required.

Useful links

Ministry for the Environment (MfE) IWG factsheet(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.