The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Regulations 2020 came into force on 3 September 2020.

The standards are designed to protect existing inland and coastal wetlands, improve poor practice intensive winter grazing of forage crops, restrict further agricultural intensification and limit the discharge of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to land and require reporting of fertiliser use.

The intensive winter grazing rules apply to any grazing crop in situ other than pasture for the period between 1 May and 30 September.

A resource consent is not required if the farm has previously been used for intensive winter grazing between 2014 and 2019 and you are not seeking to expand the area. If the criteria cannot be met, a resource consent will be needed.

The rules on intensive winter grazing and cropping were to have taken effect on 1 May 2021, but have been delayed until 1 May 2022. The exception is the requirement to obtain a resource consent for an expansion of the area which took effect on 1 May 2021.

The regulations include the exclusion of pigs, dairy cattle, dairy support, deer and beef cattle from waterways. This exclusion means at least a setback of 3 metres from any body of water being a lake, river or natural wetland; there are some exceptions for smaller bodies of water. Effective fences must be put in place to ensure stock cannot enter into the waterways.

From 1 July 2021, a resource consent will be required if more than 190kg of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is applied per hectare. This is an average across the whole area in pastoral land use and a limit of no more than 190kg on any one hectare. This applies regardless of the livestock that are grazing. The nitrogen limit does not apply to land in arable use.

Regional councils are putting in additional rules and setting timeframes.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you would like some guidance about the requirements and compliance with the regulations.