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Freshwater Farm Plans

As part of the Essential Freshwater package, farms over a certain size will require a certified Freshwater Farm Plan (FW-FP).

All farms with the following land uses will require an FW-FP:

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

These regulations were formally announced on the June 8 2023 and take effect from August 1 2023 with Waikato and Southland regions being the first to begin the roll out of plans.

For the Hawke’s Bay, it is estimated at this stage Freshwater Farm Plans will begin to be rolled out in 2025.

What is a Freshwater Farm Plan

FW-FPs are a tool designed to stop further decline in freshwater quality, make water quality improvements within five years, and begin to reverse past damage to our waterways. FW-FPs will identify practical on-farm actions to help improve the health of the water and land. These will depend on the farm’s location, catchment, and local environment, and will provide a more flexible alternative to consents and one-size-fits-all approaches.

What will I need to include in my Freshwater Farm Plan?

Your FW-FP will need to include information on:

  • your catchment – including values, ecosystem and community outcomes
  • risk identification and impact assessment – including the identification of critical source areas, plans for the management of fodder crops and wetlands
  • actions to mitigate risks – including plans to strategically fence waterways, restore wetlands, and intensive winter grazing plans
  • how you will meet the Freshwater National Environmental Standards (NES-FW) – including meeting the synthetic nitrogen cap, intensive winter grazing, stock holding and wetland rules
  • how you will exclude stock from waterways and meet the new stock exclusion regulations.

Freshwater Farm Plans and Tukituki Farm Environment Management Plans

Tukituki Catchment farms are already required to have a Farm Environment Management Plan (FEMP) However, in the future FW-FPs will be required for all farms in the region with more than 20 hectares in arable or pastoral use or 5 hectares in horticultural use instead of a Tukituki FEMP.

FW-FPs are similar to Tukituki FEMPs, but individual farm plans will need to be linked to the specific freshwater objectives for their catchment.
We are currently working with other regional councils on a process for introducing FW-FPs. While we await decisions on how exactly FW-FPs will be implemented, it is important that farmers with Tukituki FEMPs continue to follow that plan and continue to record the actions taken until 2025.

How will we implement Freshwater Farm Plans?

In 2020, the Government brought in legislation that requires regional councils to implement FW-FPs. In 2021, it undertook a major consultation exercise to seek views on the details of how FWFPs should be implemented. The results of the consultation were evaluated and the detailed implementing rules and requirements for FW-FPs was published mid-2023.

Council will design and roll out a programme to implement FW-FPs across Hawke’s Bay in collaboration with industry and community. This will involve requesting FW-FPs for farms that are not currently required to have a Tukituki FEMP, as well as transitioning those farms with Tukituki FEMPs into the new FW-FP framework.

We expected that it will take several years to phase in FW-FPs on all farms that need to have one, and we will be working closely with industry, to help all eligible properties navigate and implement the legal requirements of a FW-FP.

Need help?

If you have any questions about the new Essential Freshwater regulations, contact the FEMP team or Rural Recovery Team on 06 835 9200 or 0800 108 838.


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