Thomson Reuters Environmental Law and Policy Conference 2020


Assembling the pieces of New Zealand’s environmental regulatory puzzle

2020 looks to be a pivotal year for environmental law and policy with the environment high on the government’s agenda.

There are a number of reforms underway including the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill 2019, Action for healthy Waterways and the Resource Management Amendment Bill 2019, that seek to provide greater guidance and direction, improve environmental outcomes and build a more productive and sustainable economy.

The Thomson Reuters 3rd annual Environmental Law and Policy Conference is taking place on 26th February 2020 at the Crowne Plaza in Auckland. The conference will provide attendees with practical guidance on the key issues affecting those that work in the environmental space.


Registration and coffee
9.00AM Opening remarks from the Chair

Hon Peter Salmon CNZM QC, Retired Justice of the High Court of New Zealand

*Hon Peter Salmon CNZM QC is general editor of Salmon Resource Management Act and A to Z of NZ Law – Environmental and Natural Resources – Westlaw NZ and joint editor Environmental Law in New Zealand.

9.10AM Managing climate risks

Climate Economist Belinda Storey sets the scene and outlines the current climate risks in Aotearoa. These risks will increasingly impact strategic planning and decision making in many organisations. Shining the spotlight on our coastlines, Belinda discusses the costs of managing coastal risk and the impact on parties such as local government, insurers and consumers. 

Belinda Storey, Managing Director, Climate Sigma

9.55AM Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill 2019 – a step forward in New Zealand’s climate change response

Climate change will impact on our communities, infrastructure, economy and natural environment. The Government is seeking to provide an enduring framework for the transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient New Zealand with the introduction of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill 2019. This session will provide an overview of the Zero Carbon Bill 2019, its progress through Parliament to date, and how the Bill will work in practice.

Duncan Ballinger, Barrister, Stout Street Chambers and committee member of Lawyers for Climate Action NZ Inc

10.40AM Morning tea

Reform of the RMA – step 1: the Resource Management Amendment Bill 2019

The Resource Management Amendment Bill 2019 RMU seeks to ‘reduce complexity, increase certainty, restore public participation opportunities and improve Resource Management Act 1991 processes.’ This session will outline the proposed amendments giving consideration to what is being repealed, what is new and what this may mean in practice. This session also outlines how the RMA Bill intends to fit with other current reform proposals, including alignment with the Zero Carbon Amendment Act (once passed). 

Stuart Ryan, Barrister


11.40PM Enforcement under the RMA

This session will discuss: data on Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement by local authorities with focus on farm dairy effluent; Enforcement Fish Hooks; Amendments to RMA relating to Enforcement; & Recent Case Law on Prosecutions.

Karenza de Silva, Environmental Lawyer

12.20PM Lunch
1.00PM Action for healthy waterways – freshwater reform

In Sept 19 the Government released the Action for healthy waterways discussion document which sets out the national direction for essential freshwater including a proposed National Environmental Standard on Freshwater Management and the rewritten National Policy Statement. Helen Atkins will outline the issues and the proposed amendments. This will be followed by a panel discussion examining the scope of the reforms and what the changes may mean in practice.

Overview and chair: Helen Atkins, Partner, Atkins Holm Majurey Ltd


Elizabeth Soal, Chief Executive, Irrigation NZ

Gary Taylor CNZM, QSO, Chairman and Executive Director, Environmental Defence Society

Mahina-a-rangi Baker, Lecturer,Te Wānanga o Raukawa; Environment Manager, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai and Member of Kāhui Wai Māori – Māori Freshwater Forum


Feature session: A judicial perspective on how we can enhance access to environmental justice and enforcement practices 

Judge John Hassan, Environment Judge

2.40PM Afternoon tea
3.00PM Progressing the Urban Growth Agenda

The government is advancing their Urban Growth Agenda with the Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities Bill and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development. Dr Lee Beattie will provide an overview with particular consideration to the role of the planning system, what this could mean for local government and the potential effect on communities. This session will also discuss the interaction of the NPS-UD with the NPS-Highly Productive Land.

Dr Lee Beattie, Urban Designer and Urban Planner, Deputy Head of School of Architecture + Planning, University of Auckland

3.40PM Case study: Fisheries Management – whose role is it anyway?

An unexpected outcome of the grounding of the MV Rena off the coast of Astrolabe (Otaiti) reef has enabled a better understanding of the impact of fishing on high value areas of the coastal environment in the Bay of Plenty.  This provided an evidence base for local tangata whenua to seek rules in the coastal plan prohibiting the taking of fish. The question of whether regional councils have jurisdiction to control fishing is still being tested through the higher courts.  In the interim, the Environment Court has found on the merits that the coastal plan should protect significant values by avoiding adverse effects.  The Court has identified three discrete areas where the taking of plants and animals would, if upheld in its final decision, be prohibited.  Aside from the interesting question of jurisdiction, this case raises issues and challenges around community expectations, stakeholder engagement, monitoring and enforcement, cultural values and customary rights, and agency co-operation. Mary Hill will discuss what this might mean for MPI, regional councils, coastal planning and the wider community. 

Mary Hill, Partner, Cooney Lees Morgan

4.20PM Closing remarks from the chair

To Register or for any further information, please go to:

When: 26 February 2020

Time: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Where: Crowne Plaza

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