The debacle continues – a natural wetland or not?
Authors: Daniel Minhinnick, Partner, Russell McVeagh; Kirsty Dibley, Senior Solicitor, Russell McVeagh
Published: Resource Management Journal August 2022
A recent decision of the Environment Court, Greater Wellington Regional Council v Adams  NZEnvC 25, has further emphasised the challenges faced in navigating New Zealand’s wetland protection regulations.
The proceedings brought by Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) related to a 12-lot rural residential subdivision in Upper Hutt, Wellington, which had been approved by Upper Hutt City Council (City Council) in February 2020. The subdivision plan identified two areas as natural wetland where buildings and earthworks were not allowed. The nub of the proceedings was that GWRC
contended that the identified natural wetland areas extended considerably beyond the areas identified on the subdivision plan and sought orders protecting the alleged more extensive wetland areas.
The outcome essentially turned on the definition of “natural wetland” in the proposed Natural Resources Plan for the Wellington Region (PNRP) and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM).