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Heretaunga Plains Groundwater Quantity Area

Update 17/08/2023

Water permits within the Heretaunga Plains Groundwater Quantity Area are part of a large group of replacement consents affected by the Proposed TANK Plan Change (Plan Change 9).

Update 17/08/2023

Water permits within the Heretaunga Plains Groundwater Quantity Area are part of a large group of replacement consents affected by the Proposed TANK Plan Change (Plan Change 9).

A decision on the Proposed TANK Plan Change was made and this notified by the Council on 9th September 2022. The Proposed TANK Plan Change will not be fully operative until all appeals on it are resolved. Despite this, its rules have legal effect. This means that these proposed rules must be complied with, or if not, that resource consents are obtained.

You can view the decision and information about the appeal process on our website here:

The decision on the TANK Plan Change sets out the way in which water should be allocated from the Heretaunga Plains Aquifer. It also makes it clear that the aquifer is to be managed as an over-allocated resource, and that reductions in the amount of water allocated from it are required.

The TANK Plan Change will need to be considered alongside the Regional Resource Management Plan provisions until it becomes fully operative. The TANK Plan introduces changes to some of the relevant rules and provisions that relate to water takes in the Heretaunga Plains Groundwater Quantity Area. Of note, the decision has confirmed:

  • The need to manage the Heretaunga Plains Aquifer as an over-allocated resource, and reduce the amount of groundwater that is allocated.
  • Base the allocation of groundwater from the Heretaunga Plains Aquifer on ‘Actual and Reasonable Use’, this being the least of:
    • what is currently consented;
    • what has been recorded as having been used over the period 2010-2020 (being a maximum annual amount); and,
    • what is calculated as necessary using the irrigation demand model Irricalc
  • Confirmed that Zone 1 groundwater takes are to be managed as if they are surface water takes and:
    • continue to be subject to minimum flows, or,
    • if the take is not already subject to a minimum flow, there needs to be a contribution to a flow or habitat enhancement scheme when they are available to offset its stream depletion effects, or it will become subject to a minimum flow.
  • Groundwater takes (not in Zone 1 areas) are all considered to contribute to stream depletion across all surface water bodies in the Heretaunga Plains including the Ngaruroro River. They are not managed with minimum flows, but they will need to join or contribute to flow or habitat enhancement schemes once they are available.

There are 16 appeals against the Proposed Plan Change. These could lead to further changes. Information about these appeals can be found at the above link on the TANK decisions webpage.


Replacement water permit group

We are currently processing a large group of around 800 applications to replace consents which have expired. While your consent has expired, if the application to replace it was lodged more than 3 months before the expiry date, it is still able to be used until a decision on the application is made. If you are unsure of the status of your consent, please contact us and we can confirm this.

Given the Proposed Plan has been considered by independent decision makers and as a decision has now been issued, our intention is to continue to process the group of replacement applications. Now that the basis for determining Actual and Reasonable use has been confirmed, we intend to undertake this assessment and advise you of the outcome. We expect to have completed this work by the end of September 2023.

After we have advised each applicant of their Actual and Reasonable volume, they will be given the opportunity to provide additional comment or information in response. We will make a decision on the need for notification of the applications after the time period for responses has closed. In the meantime, we also intend to consult with interested parties such as tangata whenua.


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Yes, provided you applied to replace your consent within the timeframes required, you can continue to exercise your existing (expired) consent until a decision has been issued on your replacement application. If you are unsure, please contact the consent advisor:

All rules in Proposed Plan Change 9 (TANK Plan Change) have legal effect1.

The rules in the decision version of the TANK Plan Change (issued 9 September 2022, are now the rules with legal effect. These rules now supersede the rules in the notified version of the TANK Plan Change, which took immediate legal effect when the TANK Plan Change was notified on 2 May 2020.

The provisions of the TANK Plan Change become operative when the appeals on the decision, or appeals on a certain section of the decision, have been resolved or withdrawn. Appeals on the TANK Plan Change may be settled in mediation or resolved through a Court decision. When the TANK Plan Change becomes operative, it replaces the relevant sections of the currently operative Regional Resource Management Plan (RRMP).

1 Pursuant to s86B of the Resource Management Act, 1991.


Until the TANK Plan Change rules are operative, both the TANK Plan Change rules and the operative Regional Resource Management Plan (RRMP) apply. This means applications will need to consider and address the relevant rules from both the TANK Plan Change and the RRMP.

It means that if you are applying for resource consent, you will need to apply under both the operative RRMP and the proposed TANK Plan Change rules. It also means that if you want to carry out a new activity that is a permitted activity, you need to comply with the permitted rules and their conditions in both plans.

The more stringent of the two relevant rule activity classes as at the date of the consent application. For example, if the activity is a controlled activity under the RRMP rule but discretionary under the TANK Plan Change, the application will be assessed as being for a discretionary activity. However, where a proposed activity has a prohibited activity status under the TANK Plan Change (and the activity is not prohibited under the RRMP), the application will be assessed as a discretionary activity.

The TANK Plan Change won’t affect your existing resource consent until it’s time to renew it or unless the Council initiates a review.


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