Waikato Healthy Rivers Plan Change | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Waikato Healthy Rivers Plan Change

Regional councils have plans that dictate what you can and can’t do on your farm. When these plans are being developed or changed, councils seek community feedback. This is your chance to have an impact on what the final plan will look like.


The Healthy Rivers Plan Change focuses on the Waikato and Waipa River catchments. When operational, it will provide a regulatory tool for the Waikato Regional Council to manage land use activities and the health of freshwater resources within these catchments.

Why should you get involved?

There are six key areas within the proposed plan that could affect sheep and beef farmers – this is your chance to have your say on these matters. They are:

  1. Conversion from farming to forestry – The plan establishes an 80-year timeframe to achieve its water quality objectives. It recognises reaching these objectives will be costly and likely require substantial changes in land use, such changing away from farming towards forestry.
  2. Nitrogen management - Holds land users to historic discharge levels from 2014/15 or 2015/16 (i.e. a grandparenting type approach to discharge restrictions). There will be limited ability, if any, for sheep and beef farmers to increase leaching beyond historic rates.
  3. Stock exclusion – Via fencing or natural barriers. Considered a priority action. All domestic cattle, deer and pigs to be excluded from all permanently flowing waterbodies up to a land slope of 25 degrees, lakes and wetlands. These are the most stringent stock exclusion rules proposed, nationally.
  4. Restricting land use change – Applies now. Any change in land use is a non-complying activity and will require resource consent.
  5. Reducing contaminant losses from farms – Ongoing reductions in discharges from farm land uses (i.e. nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and pathogens). As part of your Farm Management Plan.
  6. Regulatory requirements for Farm Management Plans – Most sheep and beef farmers are required to have a plan in place by 2020, through 2026.

Stages involved

The planning process is well underway. Submissions closed on 8 March 2017 and the public hearings are scheduled for early 2018. A decision is expected 2018.

If you didn’t make a submission, your official opportunity to have a say has now passed.

If you did submit – and you indicated you wished to speak to your submission – then make sure to take the opportunity to share your thoughts at the public hearings.

What's next?

Explore the timeline above to find out more about what's happening.

Have questions?

Contact Corina Jordan, our Environment Policy Manager – North Island, by clicking the 'Send us a message' button below.