Government takes first steps towards pragmatic and sensible freshwater rules

Cabinet has agreed to replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM), Agriculture Minister Todd McClay, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds and Associate Environment Minister Andrew Hoggard said.

“The existing National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM) has become extremely complex and expensive to implement and will not deliver the outcomes for freshwater that New Zealanders expect,” Ms Simmonds says.

“Today we are announcing that work on the NPS-FM replacement will start immediately,” Mr Hoggard says.

“This process is expected to take between 18 to 24 months and will include a robust and full consultation process with all stakeholders including iwi and the public.”

Ms Simmonds says the coalition Government is committed to improving freshwater quality for the benefit of all New Zealanders by ensuring a sustainable and balanced approach, that works towards improving the environmental outcomes for our waterways.

Mr McClay says that the Government will develop an approach that is fit for purpose and enduring.

“The farming sector cares deeply about water quality, they take their responsibilities seriously and are committed to meeting environmental obligations,” Mr McClay says. 

“To avoid unnecessary costs and compliance duplication for councils, Cabinet has decided to remove the requirement for councils to implement freshwater plans by the end of 2024. 

“Instead, effort will be directed towards the development of an enduring and workable NPS-FM, in collaboration with local communities. 

“The Natural Built Environment and Spatial Planning Repeal Bill will include provisions to give councils an extra three years, until 31 December 2027, to notify their freshwater plan changes. This will provide time to replace and start implementation on the new NPS-FM and means that unnecessary costs in relation to the NPS-FM 2020 do not need to be incurred.

“Further work will begin early in the new year to ensure that councils can continue to issue water consents during the NPS-FM replacement period.”

Beginning work to improve the quality of regulation is a key part of the Government’s 100-day plan and a commitment made as part of the National-ACT coalition agreement.