Priorities for national direction

This page sets out the priorities for national direction which will be addressed using legislative tools under the Resource Management Act.

About the priorities for national direction 

The legislative tools that sit under the Resource Management Act are used to set a consistent direction on topics of national importance. These legislative tools for national direction are national policy statements, national environmental standards and regulations for administrative matters. 

In September 2016 we updated the list of priorities that will be addressed nationally using one of the RMA legislative tools. The purpose of the list is to give communities, businesses and councils more certainty about what national guidance is being progressed and when that guidance might be completed. Each priority topic will be go through a formal development process, including public consultation and the chance to make a submission. 

See the table below for the updated priorities and links to further information. 

National direction priorities


Indicative date of completion


For more information see the following web pages

Telecommunication facilities (amendments)

The National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities 2016 came into effect on 1 January 2017.

Changes to bring the existing national environmental standards up to date with current technology and to expand permitted activities outside the road reserve.

About the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities 2016

Urban development capacity

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity came into effect on 1 December 2016

Requirements for councils to provide sufficient capacity for urban development to meet demand for housing and business needs.

National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity

Plantation forestry

Early 2017

Nationally consistent rules to manage plantation forestry with more efficiency and certainty, and maintain or improve environmental outcomes.

About the proposed National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry

Freshwater management (amendments to the National Policy Statement)

Public consultation was held from 23 February to 28 April 2017


Potential amendments to clarify how existing policies are to be applied.

Clean Water package 2017

Stock exclusion from water bodies

Public consultation was held from 23 February to 28 April 2017

A nationally consistent approach to exclude stock from water ways, starting with dairy cattle and pigs and ultimately applying to beef cattle and deer.

Clean Water package 2017

Pest control

New regulations come into force on 1 April 2017

Simplifying the regulatory regime for certain toxins used to manage pest mammals and fish by removing duplication between the Resource Management Act and other legislation, including the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Streamlining the regulatory regime for pest control


Public consultation is being held from 14 June to 8 August 2017

Nationally consistent rules for coastal plans for the management of aquaculture, including simpler and more certain re-consenting provisions for existing farms.

Proposed national environmental standard for marine aquaculture

Air (amendments to the National Environmental Standard)


Updating the provisions relating to particulate matter to reflect the costs of compliance and current science on health impacts.

About the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

Contaminants in soil (amendments to the National Environmental Standard)

 Early 2018

Changes to make the existing national environmental standard more targeted toward risks from contaminants.

Proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health

End-of-life tyres

Late 2017

Nationally consistent rules for the responsible storage of end-of-life tyres.

Proposed National Environmental Standard for the Outdoor Storage of Tyres

Dam safety

Early 2018

Developing a set of rules and conditions to ensure best-practice dam safety management is applied to all relevant dams.



Late 2018

Set out objectives and policies about managing natural and physical resources to maintain indigenous biodiversity.

About a national policy statement for biodiversity

Natural hazards

Late 2018

Guidance on managing significant risks from natural hazards.

Managing natural hazards in New Zealand

Updating the list of priorities     

As work progresses on the current list, we are also working to identify new priorities. We plan to update the list of national direction priorities in late 2017/early 2018.