Stock Excluded

Photo from :  Ministry for the Environment. 2019. Action for healthy waterways – A discussion document on national direction for our essential freshwater.

The Ministry for the Environment have released proposed regulations to exclude stock from waterways.  The proposed Regulations are part of a wider programme that MfE is implementing to create healthier waterways, and sit alongside a draft National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and Proposed National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

Stock exclusion from waterways has been a conversation surrounding the agricultural industry for some time, and until now action has been by way of a dairy industry-lead, voluntary initiative, “The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord” in July 2013.  This required signatories to exclude dairy cattle from significant waterways and wetlands, with the effect of 98% of signatories excluding dairy cattle from waterways after five years of implementation. 

This month MfE released its proposed regulations to require stock exclusion (ie. cattle, pigs and deer) from wetlands, lakes and rivers from 2021.  The Regulations are proposed to lower levels of the four main contaminants affecting waterway health (phosphorous, sediment, nitrogen and faecal matter including E. coli).  Sheep and goats are not included in the Government’s proposal on the basis that they do less damage to streams and rivers.

Larger water bodies will be dealt with by regional councils while farm plans will be used to create bespoke solutions for smaller streams and drains, although the regulations will only target water bodies that are more than one metre wide.  The regulations will be made under the Resource Management Act 1991, therefore regional councils will be tasked with monitoring and enforcing compliance.

MfE is working with the public to develop the regulations and seek feedback on:

  1. The degree of slope used to map low-slope land (non low-slope land only be regulated if classified as a high-risk pastoral activity);
  2. Potential methodologies for calculating carrying capacity;
  3. How large setbacks (space between the fence and waterway) should be and how it should be measured; and
  4. Barriers farmers may face in meeting requirements.

The official closing date for submissions is Thursday 17 October 2019 at 5pm. However, submissions will be accepted for a further two weeks beyond that date, until 31 October 2019: https://submissions.mfe.govt.nz/consultations/essential-freshwater-f483240c-4b48-4713-acaa-539915e31f4e/make-a-submission

Kate is a solicitor working in Holland Beckett Law’s Environment and Resource Management team. She is based in the Tauranga office.