Edmonds Judd

resource management

Over the fence

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 now amended

Wetlands have many environmental benefits; they can significantly reduce nutrient and sediment losses on farms, improve water quality, and provide a habitat for birds and fish.

In 2020, Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations were introduced. These regulations protected wetlands to preserve their environmental benefits. The initial regulations had limited consenting pathways and resource consents were not obtainable for the construction of any water storage facility that could adversely impact the extent or values of the wetland.

In January 2023, these regulations were amended to introduce new consenting pathways for the purposes of:

  • Urban development
  • Quarrying activities
  • The extraction of minerals and ancillary activities (with additional controls on coal mining)
  • Landfill and cleanfill areas, and
  • Water storage, ski area infrastructure and New Zealand Defence Force activities, that are included in the definition, and the existing National Environmental Standards for Freshwater provision for ‘specified infrastructure.’

There are certain ‘gateway tests’ under the new consent pathways that must be satisfied before consent is granted.

The effects of the activity must also be managed using the ‘effects management hierarchy.’ This addresses any adverse effects the activities may have on the extent or value of the wetland. There are also certain conditions imposed on the new consenting pathways, including the requirement that water storage infrastructures must provide significant national or regional benefits.


Affordable Water Reform replaces Three Waters Reform Programme

On 13 April 2023, the government announced changes to its Three Waters Reform Programme. Three Waters was introduced in 2022 to change the delivery of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater to ensure all New Zealanders have safe and reliable water infrastructure.

After a significant negative public response to the Three Waters proposal, the government has made key changes to what is now called Affordable Water Reform. These are:

  • Ten publicly owned specialised service entities rather than four
  • The entities will be based around the existing regions and will be connected to the communities that they serve
  • The entities will be owned by local councils and will be operationally and financially independent
  • Each entity will be governed by a professional board and local input will be enhanced through the regional representative group for each entity. There will be an equal number of mana whenua and council representatives on each entity’s regional representative group, and
  • The introduction of the entities will occur through a staged approach between early 2025 and 1 July 2026 at the latest.

The original Better-Off funding model was designed to support councils through the transition period and to manage the financial impacts of the reforms. The Crown will still provide Better-Off funding for the first phase ($500 million) but not for the second phase ($1.5 billion). The first phase of funding has been implemented to try to negate the financial implications that the councils face during the transition.

The latest amendments do not largely impact the Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill currently before Parliament. The government intends to pass legislation to implement these new changes before the election in mid-October.

Reaction to the changes to the government’s revised water reform programme has, it is fair to say, been mixed. It will be interesting to see how these reforms progress over the next six months before the election.


Cyclone Gabrielle – animal welfare management

Cyclone Gabrielle had a significant impact on farms in the North Island and left many animals stranded and in danger. This has highlighted the importance of having a disaster management plan in place which sets out what is required to keep your stock and pets safe.

When preparing for a disaster there are a range of factors to consider including:

  • What items should be included in an emergency kit, such as necessary food, medicine and water
  • Where the emergency kit will be stored so that it is accessible in the event of a disaster
  • Evacuation routes
  • Where animals can be safely stored in the event of a disaster including high points and well sheltered areas
  • What will happen with the animals while your property is restored, and
  • How will your animals be cared for if your property is damaged?

When a disaster occurs it can greatly impact the health of your animals. They are often stressed from the disaster which weakens their immune systems and increases their risk of becoming sick. As medical supplies are usually difficult to obtain following a disaster, it is important to ensure that you always have sufficient supplies on hand to keep your animals healthy.

There is also the possibility that stock feed could be damaged as a result of the disaster. Following Cyclone Gabrielle, the floodwaters caused some feed to become contaminated with sewage, bacteria, chemicals and other toxins. Moisture also increases the risk of mould.

As a part of your disaster response planning you need to consider what will happen where there is limited feed, including what animals take priority such as animals that are pregnant or newly born animals that will be at the highest risk.


DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Rural eSpeaking is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Rural eSpeaking may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022.     Editor: Adrienne Olsen.       E-mail: [email protected].       Ph: 029 286 3650

Assisting recovery and improving resilience

The severe weather events this year, in particular Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle, highlighted the need to amend some legislation to assist recovery and improve resilience for areas that have been impacted.

The Severe Weather Emergency Legislation Act 2023 is the government’s response to legislation that can be amended to improve emergency response and reduce regulation. Having come into force on 21 March, the Act amends these four statutes:

  • Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEM)
  • Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA)
  • Food Act 2014 (FA) and the Food Regulations 2015 (FR), and
  • Local Government Act 2022 (LGA).


Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002

Amendments to the CDEM address issues relating to concurrent declarations of states of emergency and notices of transition periods, and how resources dedicated to emergency response are used.

Group recovery managers appointed under the CDEM are responsible for coordinating the recovery activity within the region they are appointed. The Act clarifies that they must not use their powers, in respect of resources, for the benefit of a current emergency response if it is contrary to the priorities of an ongoing transition period in the region.

Resource Management Act 1991

Changes to the RMA slightly reduce the level of red tape following significant weather events. These changes lower the level of notice required by an authority to enter land in response to an emergency, and increase the ability for owners or occupiers of land to conduct emergency work and preventative remedial actions. Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle, as well as the heavy rainfall in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, are listed as ‘severe weather events’ with areas impacted by these events being ‘affected areas.’

Formerly a local authority or consent authority entering any place to take an action to remove the cause of, or mitigate any actual or likely adverse effect, of an emergency, had to give notice to the occupier. This has now been modified so that the authority only needs to display a prominent notice on the land and, as soon as practicable, a notice containing the same details is to be served on the ratepayer.

Under the old legislation, the notice required a person who had undertaken emergency works, or preventive or remedial action, to give notice of that activity within seven days and apply for any appropriate resource consents within 20 working days (if the activity contravened sections 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the RMA). These times are now extended to 100 working days and 160 working days respectively. The same extension has been applied where emergency work is undertaken under the CDEM via section 330C.These extensions will revert back to the previous timeframes on 1 April 2025.

Immediate preventive or remedial measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate loss, injury, detriment or damage caused by a severe weather event undertaken by an owner or occupier of rural land is now a permitted activity under the RMA.

However, any activity classified as a prohibited activity in a relevant plan, any applicable regulations or national environmental standards will not be a permitted activity. Written notice must be provided to the relevant consent authority within 60 working days after starting the activity and, if the requisite notice is not given, the permitted activity status is revoked from the date on which the notice period ends. This will end on 1 October 2023 and the previously listed activities will no longer be permitted by default.

These sections aim to provide short-term relief for rural owners and occupiers to begin remedial work after the recent severe weather events without having the requisite resource consent as long as they are not listed as prohibited activities elsewhere.

Food Act 2014 and the Food Regulations 2015

Under the FA and FR, a food business is a business, activity, or undertaking that trades in food, whether in whole or in part. The FA and FR apply to food for sale as well as food-related accessories.

The Act acknowledges that compliance with the FA and FR registration and verification requirements may not have been possible for some food business owners during recent severe weather events in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay and the districts of Tararua, Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa (collectively referred to as ‘affected areas’).

If a food business in an affected area had their registration expire, or their registration is due to expire, between 8 January and 16 May 2023, they are provided with an extension for registration until 16 May 2023. A food business owner may continue to operate beyond this period provided they have paid the required fee for renewal of their registration.

Under the amended FR, food business owners in an affected area that were due to comply with regulations 87(1), 88(1) or 90 between 8 January 2023 and 16 May 2023 and regulations 91(1), 92(1), 93(1) or 94 between 8 January 2023 and 16 August 2023 are now exempt from doing so. However, if an operator of a food business benefits from an exemption they must resume compliance when they are next required to so in accordance with the FR.

Local Government Act 2002

Local authorities may amend existing long-term plans (being plans for the period 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024) to include matters relating to water services so that they may respond to the damage that has been caused to water infrastructure as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Local authorities and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups now may also meet by audio or audiovisual link.


There is a great deal to digest with these changes; if you have any queries or need some help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Rural eSpeaking is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Rural eSpeaking may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022.     Editor: Adrienne Olsen.       E-mail: [email protected].       Ph: 029 286 3650

California Happy Cows

Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 26 November 2015. The submission process is well underway with the Select Committee receiving submissions until Monday, 14 March 2016.

The Bill’s main purpose is ‘to create a Resource Management system that achieves the sustainable management of natural and physical resources in an efficient and equitable way.’ In the last election the current government was very clear in its desire to make changes to the Resource Management Act, and related legislation, to try to speed up and simplify Resource Management Act processes.

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