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allegrow rural environmental logo

Fresh Water Farm Plans

Freshwater Farm Plans (FW-FP) are a new legal instrument established under the Resource Management Act, to better control the environmental risks associated with farming on freshwater ecosystems. FW-FP’s are a tool to help farmers and growers manage on-farm risks to freshwater, with a focus on nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and sediment. The plans aim to protect and restore New Zealand’s freshwater by assessing each farm’s potential impact on freshwater and developing a set of actions to address these, in light of the catchment in which each farm sits.

The freshwater farm plan regulations came into force from 1 August 2023 in Southland and Waikato regions. The remaining 14 regional and unitary councils will have the regulations come into effects at various times over the next few years. Bay of Plenty will be phased in before the end of 2025.

Establishing a certified freshwater farm plan system is part of the Essential Freshwater package introduced by the Government in 2020 and it requires regional councils to amend regional policy statements and plans to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai, as well as several reforms, some of which are now in effect.

Freshwater Farm Plans must be completed for every farm in New Zealand that meet the following:

  • Arable and pastoral systems > 20 ha
  • Horticultural systems > 5 ha
  • Or > 20 ha of a combination of arable/pastoral/horticultural

The Plans will need to be certified, audited by independent auditors and enforced by regional council, to ensure they met legislative requirements and are fit for purpose. They will need to be re-certified/updated on a 3 – 5 yr. timescale, to ensure they are still meeting those requirements.

Freshwater Farm Plans will include:

Natalia Zefferino

Environmental Consultant