Edmonds Judd

RMA

To be repealed by new government

The 2023 election has resulted in a National Party-led coalition, that campaigned on a commitment to repeal the Labour government’s Three Waters legislation and the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) replacement legislation. It has confirmed that these statutes will be repealed within its first 100 days in office.

 

Three Waters to be Local Water Done Well

The previous government introduced Three Waters to reform water management by shifting it away from New Zealand’s 67 councils, and handing it to four large co-governed regional entities. It was entitled ‘Three Waters’ as the legislation related to three main types of water infrastructure: storm water, drinking water and wastewater. In April this year, after much criticism, Three Waters was renamed Affordable Water with 10 publicly owned water services entities to be established.

The new government intends to introduce its Local Water Done Well plan that will:

  • Repeal Three Waters and scrap the co-governed mega-entities
  • Restore council ownership and control
  • Set water quality and infrastructure investment rules, and
  • Ensure water services are financially sustainable.

Within one year of repealing Three Waters, councils will be required to deliver a plan detailing how they will transition their water services to the new model that meets water quality and infrastructure investments rules, while being financially sustainable in the long-term. Communities, via their local council, will retain ownership of their assets.

Under Local Water Done Well, a Water Services Regulator will be introduced; its role will be to set and enforce water quality standards across New Zealand. It will also be responsible for developing and enforcing rules around the management of stormwater and wastewater that will include setting standards for acceptable discharge and mitigating environmental risks to rivers and beaches.

Local councils will have to present a model for the delivery of water services that is financially sustainable and meets the strict rules for water quality and water infrastructure. If a council cannot achieve financial sustainability by, for example, gaining access to long-term borrowing, the government will provide limited one-off funding to bridge the gap. Support will be decided on a case-by-case basis; Crown funding can only be used for projects needed to transition to a sustainable footing, not for day-to-day delivery of water services.

 

Resource Management Act 1991

In February 2021, the Labour government announced that the RMA would be repealed and replaced with three new statutes: the Spatial Planning Act, the Natural and Built Environment Act and the Climate Adaption Act. The first two statutes were passed in August; the Climate Adaption Bill did not pass before October’s general election. Early in its election campaign, the National Party labelled the RMA-replacement legislation as complex and pledged to repeal them within its first 100 days of office.

The National Party had agreed that the RMA needed fixing but instead campaigned on its own changes.

The National Party’s coalition agreement with ACT and New Zealand First reflects all parties’ commitment to reduce red tape. In particular, the government wants to make it easier to obtain consents for infrastructure (including renewable energy), building houses, and aquaculture and other primary industries. The coalition agreement also presents a desire for ‘allowing farmers to farm’ which suggests the red tape cut from the RMA will lead to a reduction in bureaucracy and more time spent actually farming.

The new government has stated that it will begin to work on a longer-term programme to repeal the RMA, however the detail of this plan is yet to be announced. We will keep you informed during that process.

 

 

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


Freshwater farm plans

Roll out by regions starting 1 August

Freshwater farm plans are part of the Essential Freshwater package introduced in 2020. Its purpose is to:

  • Stop further degradation of New Zealand’s freshwater resources and improve water quality
  • Reverse past damage, and
  • Bring New Zealand’s freshwater resources, waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.

To that end[1], freshwater farm plans are now beginning to be required by all farms that have:

  • 20 hectares or more in arable or pastoral use
  • Five hectares or more in horticultural use, or
  • 20 hectares or more in combined use.

Southland and Waikato roll out first

The order sets out[2] which of New Zealand’s regions must have their plans underway.

The first regions to prepare their plans from 1 August 2023 are Southland and Waikato. The remaining regions must start the process at various times up to 1 July 2025. Due to the effects of Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle earlier this year, the timing of the implementation of these plans in Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti is yet to be decided.

Within 18 months of the order coming into effect for a particular region, plans must be ‘certified’ by a certifier who will be appointed by the local regional council. Plans must be audited within 12 months of the date of certification, with the timing of further audits dependent on the results of the initial audit.  Auditors will be appointed by the local regional council. Plans must be recertified every five years.

The process

The freshwater farm process requires farm operators to identify on-farm risks to freshwater and to determine actions to manage those risks based on the:

  • Farm’s landscape features and natural environment
  • Farming activities, and
  • Environmental health, and cultural and community values of the local catchment.

The intent of the legislation is to ensure that the on-farm actions are practical and effective in relation to a specific farm, rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach to the issue.

It is the responsibility of the ‘farm operator’ who is the person with ‘ultimate responsibility for the operation of the farm’ to prepare the freshwater plan.

Under Section 217E of the Act, the main duties of the farm operator are to:

  • Prepare a freshwater farm plan in accordance with Part 9A of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and Regulations
  • Submit the plan to a certifier for certification
  • Ensure that the farm operates in compliance with the certified freshwater farm plan, and
  • Arrange for the farm to be audited in accordance with Part 9A of the RMA and any regulations for compliance with the certified freshwater farm plan.

Keep the plan current

The farm operator must also keep the certified freshwater farm plan fit for purpose by amending  the plan as necessary to reflect the Act and Regulations.

Section 217F sets out what the freshwater farm plan must contain. Basically, it must:

  • Identify any adverse effects of activities carried out on the farm on freshwater and freshwater ecosystems
  • Specify requirements that are:
  • Appropriate for the purpose of avoiding, remedying, or mitigating the adverse effects of those activities on freshwater and freshwater ecosystems, and
  • Be clear and measurable
  • Demonstrate how any outcomes prescribed in any Regulations are to be achieved
  • Comply with any other requirements in the Regulations, and
  • Comply with section 217L.[3]

There are a variety of templates and guidance tools made available by MPI here and other resources are available to farmers to help them complete their freshwater farm plans.

If you need some help in navigating the freshwater farm plan regime, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. We are here to help.

[1] Under part 9A of the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Resource Management (Application of Part 9A –Freshwater Farm Plans) Registrations 2023.

[2] Resource Management (Application of Part 9A – Freshwater Farm Plans) Order 2023.

[3] Section 217L states that a freshwater farm plan may contain a requirement that relates to an activity on the farm that is subject to a ‘specified instrument’ (a resource consent, conservation order or similar requirement). This section is intended to ensure that compliance with the freshwater plan does not supersede any obligation to comply with any such specified instruments.

 

 

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


cowsHave you driven down the road and had your windscreen splattered with effluent as farmers irrigate their paddocks with nutrient-dense animal waste? Has your washing been hanging on the line all day and now has a pungent odour? Many farmers use a travelling irrigator or muck spreader on the farm, so what are your obligations to protect the general public from the effect of your permitted farming activity?

While most farmers Continue reading