Tougher regulations are the only way to stop water pollution, a scientist says.
The Manawatu-Whanganui regional council's One Plan, which sets nutrient limits and places tougher rules on land users, is set to proceed after the Environment Court on Wednesday ruled against appeals by farming interests to dilute it.
The court considered more than 20 appeals against the plan.
Its ruling means all intensive farming and horticulture operations will have to have consents for nutrient management plans to continue operating. That includes irrigated sheep and beef and cropping farms, as well as dairy farms and market gardens.
Marc Schallenberg, a freshwater scientist from the University of Otago, says the Resource Management Act has failed to protect waterways being polluted through indirect sources such as farming run-offs.
Mr Schallengberg says education and self-regulation have failed and a rules-based approach, such as the council's plan, will be increasingly used throughout the country.
Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson says the court has restored environmental protection measures originally proposed by the regional council that were watered down by the commissioners who heard submissions.
Mr Johnson says the One Plan sends a strong signal to the rest of New Zealand.
However Mike Joy, a scientist at Massey says the plan will merely halt declining water quality, rather than improve it - especially for the area's coastal lakes.