Doing works in or near wetlands

Natural wetland or Regionally Significant Wetland

Wetlands are permanently or intermittently wet areas that support natural ecosystems of plants and animals. They can include bogs, swamps, fens, shallow water and salt marshes, and are found from the coast to the high country. If you have a wetland on your property, there are different rules depending on the type of wetland (Regionally Significant Wetland and/or a natural wetland) and what activity you are proposing to do in or near the wetland.

A natural wetland (also known as a natural inland wetland) means a wetland that is not:

  • A wetland that is not in the Coastal Marina Area; or
  • A wetland constructed by artificial means (unless it was constructed to offset impacts on, or restore, an existing or former wetland) ; or
  • A geothermal wetland; or
  • Any area of improved pasture that, at the commencement date, is dominated by (that is more than 50% of) exotic pasture species and is subject to temporary rain derived water pooling.

If an area doesn’t meet the definition of a wetland under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), it may meet the wetland definition under the Regional Plan: Water (known as a Regionally Significant Wetland). If so, the Water Plan rules apply to the wetland.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago

 

Key dates

*stock includes all beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, deer and pigs.

3 September 2020 all stock must be excluded from wetlands in relation to stock in a new pastoral system.

1 July 2023 all stock must be excluded from natural wetlands identified in Council plans

1 July 2025 All stock must be excluded from wetlands that support threatened species

1 July 2025 All stock must be excluded from wetlands over 0.05 hectares and on low slope land.

 

Do I need resource consent?

Click on an activity below to view the rules around that activity and if you need a consent.

 

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Vegetation clearance within a natural wetland, or within a 10m setback from a natural wetland requires consent unless it is for restoration of the wetland, or for arable and horticultural use (See below).

Restoration of natural wetlands

Vegetation clearance within a natural wetland, or within a 10m setback from a natural wetland for the purpose of restoration is does not require consent if it does not occur over more than 500m2 or 10% of the area of the natural wetland, whichever is smaller.

The activity must also comply with the general conditions in Regulation 55 of the NES-F.
Consent is required if the above cannot be met.

Arable and horticultural land use

Vegetation clearance outside a natural wetland, or within a 10m setback from a natural wetland is allowed and doesn’t require consent if it’s for the purpose of arable land use or horticultural land use in an area that was used for either of those purposes at any time between 1 January 2010 and 2 September 2020.

The activity must also comply with the general conditions in Regulation 55 of the NES-F.
Consent is required if the above cannot be met

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

Rules 13.7.1.2 and 13.7.3.1

Some limited permitted activities but otherwise removal or clearance of plant material from any Regionally Significant Wetland will require consent.

Consent required

Yes, if clearing vegetation in a natural wetland then consent required under the NES-F and also under the RPW if it is also a Regionally Significant Wetland (except for limited circumstances).

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Earthworks within a natural wetland, or within a 10m setback from a natural wetland requires consent if not otherwise stated below.

Restoration of natural wetlands

Earthworks or land disturbance within a natural wetland, or within a 10m setback from a natural wetland is allowed for the purpose of restoration and does not require consent if it does not occur over more than 500m2 or 10% of the area of the natural wetland, whichever is smaller, unless it is for planting.

The activity must also comply with the general conditions on works within wetlands in Regulation 55 of the NES-F. Otherwise, it requires consent.

Arable and horticultural land use

Earthworks or land disturbance outside of a natural wetland, but within a 10 m setback from a natural wetland is a permitted activity and does not require consent if it is for the purpose of arable land use or horticultural land use in an area that was used for either of those uses at any time between 1 January 2010 and 2 September 2020.

The activity must also comply with the general conditions on works within wetlands in Regulation 55 of the NES-F. Otherwise, it consent.

Drainage of wetlands

Earthworks outside of a natural wetland, but within a 100m setback from a natural wetland is a non-complying activity and requires consent if it results, or is likely to result, in the complete or partial drainage of all or part of a natural wetland and does not have another status under any regulations.
Earthworks within a natural wetland is a prohibited activity (no consent can be obtained) if it results, or is likely to result, in the complete or partial drainage of all or part of a natural wetland and does not have another status under any regulations.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

Rule 12.1.2.6

Drainage of Regionally Significant Wetland is permitted (consent not required) providing any taking within a Regionally Significant Wetland was lawfully established prior to 2 July 2011; and there’s no change to the water level range or hydrological function of any RSW; and there is no damage to fauna, or NZ native flora, in or on any RSW; and the taking does not result in lowering the level of water in any lake or river; and the taking does not cause any flooding of any other person’s property, erosion, land instability, sedimentation or property damage.

Consent required?

Yes, consent is required under the NES (except for limited circumstances) when doing earthworks in or near a natural wetland but consent not required under the RPW.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Earthworks within a natural wetland, or within a 10m setback from a natural wetland requires consent – Regulation 54 of NES-F.

Earthworks outside of a natural wetland, but within a 100m setback from a natural wetland requires consent if it results, or is likely to result, in the complete or partial drainage of all or part of a natural wetland and does not have another status under any regulations.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

Rule 14.1
Consent required to drill or alter a bore.

Consent required?

Yes, consent is required under the NES-F if drilling a bore in or near a natural wetland and consent will also be required under the RPW if the wetland is classed as a Regionally Significant Wetland.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Regulation 54 of the NES-F states that within a natural wetland or within 100m of a natural wetland consent is required to take, use, dam, divert, or discharge water.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

If the application is for a resource consent for the taking and use of water and the activity was previously authorised by an existing Deemed Permit or by a water permit expiring before 31 December 2025, refer to the rules in Chapter 10A.

Surface water

Rule 12.1.2.1
Can take up to 25000L per day from or near a Regionally Significant Wetland as long as no adverse effect on the environment. Rule 12.1.2.5 Surface water can be taken providing that water take means there is no change to the water level range or hydrological function of any regionally significant wetland and there is no damage to fauna, or NZ native flora, in or on any Regionally Significant Wetland.

Otherwise, consent is required.

Groundwater

Can take up to 25,000L per day from or near a Regionally Significant Wetland.

Consent required?

Consent is required under the NES-F if taking, using, damming, diverting or discharging water in a natural wetland and may also be required under the RPW for regionally significant wetlands if certain criteria cannot be met.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Drainage within 100m setback from a wetland requires consent if it:

  • Results in drainage of a wetland; and
  • Does not have any other status under any other regulations.

Please note, you cannot drain a wetland itself.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

Rule 12.1.2.6 – land drainage is only permitted within a Regionally Significant Wetland lawfully established prior to 2 July 2011.

Consent required?

Yes, consent is required under NES-F if drainage of a natural wetland occurs and also likely need consent under the RPW if the wetland is a Regionally Significant Wetland.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

To be a permitted activity, intensive winter grazing needs to meet a variety of conditions, one of which is that livestock must be kept at least 5m away from the bed of any wetland, regardless of whether there is any water in it at the time.

If this condition is not met it requires consent.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

RPW Rule 14.6

Permitted as long as winter grazing does not occur in a natural wetland.

Consent required?

Consent not required if conditions are met.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Under the NES FW ‘stock’ refers to dairy, dairy support, beef cattle, pigs, and deer.
3 September 2020 – Stock must be excluded from any natural wetland on a newly developed farm.

  • 1 July 2023 – stock must be excluded from natural wetlands identified in the regional or district plan
  • 1 July 2025 – stock must be excluded from natural wetlands that support a threatened species. Stock must be excluded from natural wetlands that are larger than 0.05 hectares and on low slope land.

The Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020 also include controls on activities within a natural wetland, or within 100 metres of a natural wetland.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

Not applicable.

Consent required?

Consent cannot be granted.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Consent is required to use water within a natural wetland. However, we are able to process this alongside a take of water, therefore, if you are applying to take surface or groundwater, we can consider the effects of the use at the same time. A separate application is not required. This would result in a single water permit with the authorisation of both “take and use” water.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

Irrigating under the RPW only regulated if irrigating with effluent.

The discharge of liquid animal effluent from an animal effluent system to any Regionally Significant Wetland is prohibited.

Consent required?

Yes, consent required under the NES-F.

Consent cannot be granted under the RPW.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Discharge of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is permitted – regulation 33.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago [RPW]

There is a permitted rule in the RPW for the discharge of fertiliser onto production land (12.B.1.5) but there can be no damage to fauna or NZ flora in or on any Regionally Significant wetland.

Consent required?

Consent not required if conditions can be met.

Specified infrastructure means any of the following:

  • infrastructure that delivers a service operated by a lifeline utility (as defined in the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002)
  • regionally significant infrastructure identified as such in a regional policy statement or regional plan
  • any public flood control, flood protection, or drainage works carried out:
    • by or on behalf of a local authority, including works carried out for the purposes set out in section 133 of the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941; or
    • for the purpose of drainage by drainage districts under the Land Drainage Act 1908

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Some activities are permitted e.g. vegetation clearance, earthworks/land disturbance, taking and using water as long as the conditions in regulation 55 are met.

Consent required?

Consent not required under NES-F or RPW.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Vegetation clearance within, or within a 10 m setback from, a natural wetland is a permitted activity if it—
is for the purpose of scientific research; and
complies with the conditions in Regulation 55 of the NES-F.

The taking, use, damming, diversion, or discharge of water within, or within a 100 m setback from, a natural wetland is a permitted activity if it— is for the purpose of scientific research; and complies with the conditions in Regulation 55 of the NES-F.

Consent required?

Consent not required under the NES-F or RPW.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Permitted - no consent required.

Consent required?

Consent not required under the NES-F or RPW.

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 [NES-F]

Discharge of wastewater within 100m of a natural wetland will require consent (Regulation 54).

Consent required?

Consent required under the NES-F

 

Not sure what type of wetland it is, or you don’t think it is a wetland?

Have a look around your property and check for areas that:

  • are wet and boggy all the time or regularly
  • contain native plants and/or animals
  • have a river or stream going through the area or nearby

These areas are likely to be wetlands.

In case of uncertainty or dispute about the existence or extent of a natural inland wetland (which means the NES-F rules apply), a regional council must have regard to the Wetland delineation protocols.

Wetland delineation protocols (Ministry for the Environment)

Defining natural wetlands and natural inland wetlands flowchart (Ministry for the Environment)

Check if you have a Regionally Significant Wetland on your property (which means RPW rules apply).

Note, induced wetlands, which are incidental wetlands created by any other human activity, are covered by these rules. The rules do not apply to wetlands constructed to offset impacts on or restore an existing or former natural wetland.

 

Contact us

Email public.enquiries@orc.govt.nz and we can help explain the rules around wetlands and help you understand the rules that apply to your land.

 

Further information and practice notes

Wetlands fact sheet

Technical Advice Note - Wetlands and Essential Freshwater 2020

Technical Advice Note - National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020

 

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