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MfE work stream update

Ministry for the Environment: Resource Management Update

Category: national

The following update provides an overview of the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) progress on its work streams.

Resource Legislation Amendment Bill

On 6 March 2017, the Local Government and Environment Select Committee reported back on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (the Bill). Its report, which details the issues the Committee considered and their recommended changes to the Bill, is available on the NZ Parliament website.

A Bill passes through several stages before it can become an Act of Parliament – the next step will be the Second Reading in Parliament. Timing of enactment will depend on the speed of this process. MfE will keep you updated on its progress.

Meanwhile, MfE is preparing to support councils with implementing the Bill when it passes, with:

  • initial guidance to be available on our website on Royal Assent of the Bill, including a series of fact sheets.
  • written technical guidance for councils. We will seek feedback from council staff who have previously signalled their interest in being involved.
  • support to councils through implementation of the Bill is to set up a bespoke forum on SOLGM’s LG Connect Listserve. This will provide a platform to share information and answer your queries post-enactment. Watch this space!
  • attendance at council regional planning forums around the country during 2017 to talk about the implications of the Bill and other matters. MfE will be in touch with councils about these meetings.

For more information, contact Chyi Sim (chyi.sim@mfe.govt.nz).

Clean Water package

On 23 February 2017, the Environment Minister announced a target that 90% of rivers and lakes will be swimmable by 2040. The target is underpinned by measures set out in the Clean Water package which include:

Read more about the tests we are using to categorise water quality for swimming.

For more information, contact Jo Burton (Jo.Burton@mfe.govt.nz).

Upcoming National Planning Standards’ papers for discussion

The National Planning Standards, formerly known as the National Planning Template, are requirements proposed in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill for plan format, structure, and some content (including definitions) that councils will need to apply to their plans and policy statements prepared under the RMA. This includes how they are delivered electronically.

MfE is preparing topic papers for discussion. The first set will cover:

  • structure of district plans
  • structure of regional plans and regional policy statements
  • zones, overlays and other spatial layers
  • form of plans (font, headings, tables, etc.)
  • mapping
  • administrative provisions in plans
  • definitions and some metrics
  • electronic functionality.

Each paper will outline research findings, issues, the options for standards, whether we have a preference at this stage, and key questions.

MfE will be asking for feedback on the papers, and is keen for you to discuss your perspectives. MfE will use a shared workspace online to upload documents for you to comment on, share your views and take part in discussions. MfE is also planning regional workshops, likely to be held in May and June.

For more information, contact Liz Moncrieff (Liz.Moncrieff@mfe.govt.nz).

NPS Urban Development Capacity implementation

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS-UDC) requires all local authorities with a high- or medium-growth urban area within their district or region to monitor market indicators and produce housing and business development capacity assessments. Thank you to all the councils who participated in the interviews about proposed guidance for these NPS-UDC policies (PB1-7 of the NPS-UDC).

MfE will use the information from these surveys to ensure the guidance is producing is best suited to councils’ needs. MfE is planning a forum for high- and medium-growth councils in April or May to discuss draft guidance. In the meantime, council representatives on the two Technical Advisory Groups are providing substantial input into the development of guidance.

The NPS-UDC also requires all local authorities with a high-growth urban area within their district or region to produce a future development strategy that demonstrates there will be sufficient, feasible development capacity in the medium and long terms and that the minimum targets will be met.

MfE is planning to look at existing urban growth management strategies, to find out what has worked well internationally, what is currently working well in New Zealand, and how we can share these lessons. A consultant will be contacting high (and some medium) growth councils in mid-March to discuss councils’ use of these strategies, and how they are working. This research will help MfE tailor any guidance on the Future Development Strategies requirements under the NPS-UDC to best suit councils’ individual circumstances.

For more information, email npsurbandevelopment@mfe.govt.nz.

New pest control regulation

pest control regulation made under section 360(1)(h) of the RMA will come into effect on 1 April 2017. The regulation removes RMA controls for pest control operations using sodium fluoroacetate (1080), brodifacoum and rotenone.

The RMA controls duplicated controls under other legislation, so their removal helps to simplify the regulatory regime. People undertaking pest control operations will no longer have to make consent applications when using the above vertebrate toxic agents. The regulations will also over-ride existing plan rules relating to pest control.

MfE will provide guidance to councils about implementation of the regulation in mid-late March 2017.

For more information, contact Matthew Parker (Matthew.parker@mfe.govt.nz).

NPS for Biodiversity

A collaborative process for the development of a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity and supporting measures is due to commence in the coming months.

The core members of the Biodiversity Collaborative Group will be Forest & Bird, Federated Farmers, representatives of iwi leaders, the Forest Owners Association, the Environmental Defence Society, and a representative of the extractive/infrastructure industries.

The Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Puni Kōkiri, Local Government New Zealand, Land Information New Zealand and representatives from district and regional councils will be active observers on the group.

For more information, contact Amber Bill (Amber.Bill@mfe.govt.nz or 022 076 4659).

National Monitoring System data requirements for 2017/18

MfE has undertaken stakeholder engagement concerning changes to National Monitoring System (NMS) data requirements for 2017/18. Since then, MfE has moved its focus to refining and consolidating its existing data request. MfE now expects its data request for 2017/18 to be similar to the 2016/17 request. MfE will be in touch later in the year to discuss how it can better align the NMS with your needs and operations.

For more information, contact Hamish Barrell (Hamish.Barrell@mfe.govt.nz).
Amending the NES on Contaminated Soil and the Hazardous Activities and Industries List

MfE is currently summarising submissions and undertaking further policy analysis on the proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standard for Contaminated Soil (NESCS) and the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL). MfE plans to test drafts of these with its working group, and aim to have the amendments in place by mid-2017.

For more information, contact Catherine Schofield (Catherine.Schofield@mfe.govt.nz).

Evaluation of the NPS for Renewable Electricity Generation

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have released a report evaluating the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation (NPS-REG).

The evaluation looked at how councils have given effect to the NPS-REG. It did not find any issues requiring urgent attention, however, it identified areas that stakeholders think could be improved to ensure a more consistent approach to planning for and considering resource consents on renewable electricity generation.

At this stage, the Government is not proposing amendments to the NPS-REG, but it will consider next steps once an evaluation of the National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission and the National Environmental Standard for Electricity Transmission Activities is completed later this year.