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Environment Act 1986

This page provides information about the Environment Act 1986.

Read the Act

Full text of the Environment Act 1986 [New Zealand Legislation website]

About the Act

The Environment Act 1986 established the Ministry for the Environment and the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (Commissioner). The Commissioner is an officer of Parliament appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the House of Representatives for a five-year term. The Commissioner provides an independent check on the system and processes of environmental management and the performance of public authorities on environmental matters.

The functions of the Ministry for the Environment, as set out in the Environment Act 1986, are to:

  • advise the Minister on all aspects of environmental administration, including:
    • management policies for natural and physical resources and ecosystems to meet the objectives of the Environment Act 1986
    • significant environmental impacts of public or private sector proposals, particularly those that are inadequately covered by existing legislative or other environmental assessment requirements
    • ensuring effective provision is made for public participation in environmental planning and policy formulation, particularly at the regional and local level
  • obtain information, and to conduct and supervise research, so it may advise the Government on environmental policies
  • provide the Government, its agencies, and other public authorities with advice on:
    • the application, operation, and effectiveness of the Acts specified in the Schedule to the Environment Act 1986 in relation to the achievement of the objectives of the Act
    • procedures for the assessment and monitoring of environmental impacts
    • pollution control and the co-ordination of the management of pollutants in the environment
    • the identification and likelihood of natural hazards and the reduction of the effects of natural hazards
    • the control of hazardous substances, including the management of the manufacture, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous substances
  • facilitate and encourage the resolution of conflict in relation to policies and proposals which may affect the environment
  • provide and disseminate information and services to promote environmental policies, including environmental education and effective public participation in environmental planning
  • generally provide advice on matters relating to the environment
  • carry out functions specified under any other enactment (this includes for example the Ministry's functions under the RMA).