Proposed changes to wetland regulations welcomed

2 Nov 2021

BusinessNZ welcomes proposed changes to wetland regulations which will allow businesses to undertake more activity on their property, in response to concerns raised by its members.

Originally, regulations broadly prohibited earthworks on all ‘natural wetlands’, taking no account of the unique circumstances facing individual regions and communities, or the impact on broader economic development. The Ministry for the Environment’s Managing our Wetlands: A Discussion Document on Proposed Changes to the Wetland Regulations was prepared in response to feedback from organisations, including BusinessNZ, following concerns over the potential to significantly affect a business’ ability to undertake activities like quarrying and building within existing developments.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope is pleased by the opportunity to comment on the document.

“We’re glad the Government has seen fit to review these regulations to ensure they are at least workable.”

BusinessNZ Broadly supports the proposed changes outlined in the discussion document, particularly: a more sensible definition of ‘natural wetlands’, the proposal for activities like quarrying and building on wetland to be labelled from ‘prohibited’ to ‘discretionary’, the Government’s proposal to provide a consent pathway for activities that meet specified criteria, and maintaining a provision which enables more urban development while still providing protection for natural wetlands by offsetting wetland loss.

While supportive of the document, Mr Hope has highlighted some areas for further consideration. The submission by BusinessNZ proposes that no distinction is needed between types of minerals involved in any activity. It also proposes that if regulations are to provide a consenting pathway, then a broad set of minerals needed to be outlined.

“Regulations should be about addressing activities’ effects, not the activities themselves,” Mr Hope says.