MfE Update

The Ministry for the Environment has provided an update on its work streams and plans to release an updated agenda in mid-2018.

In summary:

  • MfE work on the National Planning Standards is continuing, with consultation on the first set of standards planned for May this year. A roadshow is being planned and dates will be announced early March.


  • Support to councils for implementation of the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Urban Development Capacity is ongoing. Price efficiency indicators and guidance for councils on (1) how to interpret and respond to price efficiency indicators; (2) setting minimum capacity targets for housing; and (3) producing a 30-year future development strategy, is now available on the Ministry for the Environment’sand Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s


  • The Government is moving to strengthen standards for water quality through amendments to the NPS for Freshwater Management. A detailed work plan with a particular focus on sediment, wetlands and estuaries, more water sensitive land use, stronger compliance, monitoring and enforcement, and science that supports good decision making, is underway.  The work plan will include making amendments to the NPS-FM and will also look at the implementation of the NPS-FM. Swimmability standards will continue to be part of the NPS-FM.


  • The Biodiversity Collaborative Group is continuing with its work on the NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity and complementary measures. The Group is working towards making recommendations to Government in September 2018. In 2017, the Group scanned issues and opportunities for biodiversity management, and over the next few months will be starting to form positions for their policy recommendations. The Group is currently establishing a reference group of territorial authorities to test its policy thinking, and to ensure the NPS is practical.


  • Phase 1 of the Drinking Water National Environmental Standard (NES) Review (assessing implementation) is nearing completion. Phase 2 will focus on assessing the effectiveness of the regulations, taking into account the findings and recommendations of the Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water.


  • MfE plans to hold workshops at a number of locations around the country, most likely in April and May, to support councils and communities with implementing the guidance on Coastal hazards and climate change guidance. The new edition of the Coastal hazards and climate change: Guidance for local governmentwas published in December 2017. The report provides guidance to councils on how to manage and adapt to the increased coastal hazard risks posed by climate change and sea-level rise.


  • The Government has signalled its intent to introduce a Zero Carbon Bill in 2018. The Minister for Climate Change has announced that the Bill is likely to:

-set a more ambitious emissions reduction target for 2050

– establish an independent Climate Change Commission to keep future Governments on track in meeting New Zealand’s climate change goals.

MfE intends to publicly consult in May and June 2018 on the scope of the Bill. This consultation will focus on the definition of the 2050 target, and the role, function and powers of the Commission. The public consultation period would then be followed by Cabinet consideration of policy by August 2018, with a view to introducing the Bill to Parliament by October 2018. Once the Bill is introduced, it will go through the legislative process (including Select Committee) with the intention to have the Act in force in 2019.

  • MfE plans to consult on its draft best practice guidelines for compliance, monitoring and enforcement (CME) under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) from late February. The guidelines have been developed with input and support from an oversight panel and council representatives from across New Zealand. The guidelines are comprehensive, covering the full spectrum of CME activities. MfE is seeking feedback on the guidelines to ensure they are fit for purpose. For more information, please contact Rachel Ward (


  • MfE is considering running a Streamlined Planning Process (SPP) session at the Planning and Consenting Managers Forum planned for May/June, and is seeking your input/feedback into formulating this session. Contact Claire Gregory ( if you are interested in using the new process or would like further information.


  • Feedback requested on the MfE’s stewardship of the coastal regulatory system MfE is now updating the regulatory system assessments for the 2018 Strategy and are seeking volunteers from councils to provide feedback in March on its assessment of the coastal system. To volunteer or for more information contact Graeme MacKenzie (  or 021 051 3591).


  • The 8 km Grid is an environmental sampling framework currently used by the Ministry, the Department of Conservation, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Auckland Council for monitoring carbon and biodiversity. MfE has convened a stakeholder group for all organisations using this grid for environmental monitoring to ensure communication between grid users. To join the group contact Nigel Searles or Joanna Buswell (


  • Stats NZ and the Ministry for the Environment will release its Land Report: Our Land, on 19 April. A full list of measures covered in the land report will be released ahead of time on the Stats NZ website. More on environmental reporting on the MfE website.