National environmental standards are regulations issued under sections 43 of the Resource Management Act and apply nationally. This page explains why we have national environmental standards, and links to current standards in effect and standards in development.
National environmental standards and what they are used for
National environmental standards (NES) are standards for maintaining a clean, healthy environment. The government sets standards where appropriate so everyone in our country has clear air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean land to live on.
NESs can prescribe technical standards, methods or other requirements for environmental matters. Each regional, city or district council must enforce the same standard. In some circumstances, councils can impose stricter standards.
NESs protect people and the environment and secure a consistent approach and decision-making process throughout the whole country. They create a level playing field.
National environmental standards in effect
The following standards are in force as regulations:
- National Environmental Standards for Air Quality
- National Environmental Standard for Sources of Drinking Water
- National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities
- National Environmental Standard for Electricity Transmission Activities
- National Environmental Standards for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health
National environmental standards in development
The following standards are at various stages of development, ranging from initiating consultation to being legally drafted.
- Proposed National Environmental Standard on Ecological Flows and Water Levels
- Proposed National Environmental Standard on Plantation Forestry
The previously proposed National Environmental Standard for Measurement of Water Takes is now regulations under section 360(1)(d) of the RMA. See the Resource Management Act 1991 webpage.
The Government will decide whether to progress a National Environmental Standard on future sea-level rise once it reviews the updated assessment of the science of climate change in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I Report (Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis). Further information on sea-level rise can be found on the Adapting to sea-level rise web page.
National environment standard withdrawn
The proposed National Environmental Standard for On-site wastewater systems has been withdrawn.