About the National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission

This page explains the role of the National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission, why it is needed and requirements for local authority decision-makers. It includes information on the current review.

Link to the NPS

What the NPS is

The National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission 2008 (NPS) is guidance for local authorities on how to recognise the national significance of our national grid in Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) planning documents and local decision-making. These documents include regional policy statements, regional plans and district plans.

The NPS took effect on 10 April 2008.

Why it is needed

The efficient transmission of electricity on the national grid plays a vital role in the well-being of New Zealand, its people and the environment. 

The national grid is the high voltage transmission network that carries electricity around the country. It is made up of over 12,000 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines and more than 170 substations. It connects power stations to substations that feed local electricity distribution networks.

The Government developed a national policy statement to acknowledge the national significance of the national grid and to ensure that there is balanced consideration of the national benefits and the local effects of electricity transmission.

Previously, there was no national framework that local government could use when they had to decide on proposals for transmission lines.

What it covers

The NPS provides a high-level framework that gives guidance across New Zealand for the management and future planning of the national grid. 

It does the following:

  • acknowledges the national significance of the national grid, which has to be considered in local decision making on resource management
  • gives guidance to local decision makers in the management of the impacts of the transmission network on its environment
  • recognises the national benefits we all get from electricity transmission, such as better security of supply of electricity
  • guides the management of the adverse effects of activities from third parties on the grid which helps reduce constraints on the operation, maintenance, upgrading and development of the grid
  • ensures long-term strategic planning for elements of the national grid.

Requirements for councils and the grid operator

The NPS directly affects decision makers in local government. They have to take the NPS into account when drafting plans, and have regard for it when making decisions about resource consents, alongside other considerations under the RMA.

The NPS does not refer to any individual transmission network projects but it forms part of the overall policy framework and contains policies that will need to be taken into account when individual projects are considered under the RMA.

The NPS will also have to be considered by the grid operator.


Implementation guidance

The following guidance provides commentary and examples to help councils give effect to the NPS. 

National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission: Implementation guidance for local authorities

There has been some confusion regarding the NPS and section 55 RMA requirements. The preamble to the NPS refers to section 55 of the RMA prior to the 2009 amendments. As a result councils have an obligation to use the process set out in Schedule 1 of the RMA to process any plan change or review required to give effect to the NPS.

Guidance on risks of development near high-voltage transmission lines

The NPS on Electricity Transmission requires local authorities to manage adverse effects caused by development near high-voltage transmission lines. This document provides information on the risks of development and activities and how these could be regulated under the RMA.

National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission: Further guidance on risks of development near high-voltage transmission lines

How the NPS links to the National Environmental Standards for Electricity Transmission Activities

The National Environmental Standards for Electricity Transmission Activities are regulations which set out specific detailed requirements for work on electricity transmission lines. They help councils implement the NPS policies relating to the existing transmission network. 

For more information see About the National Environmental Standards for Electricity Transmission Activities.

Review of the NPS

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are jointly undertaking an evaluation of the effectiveness of the NPS. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether the NPS is meeting its objectives and whether it remains fit for purpose. Stakeholder feedback was sought in 2015/2016. If you have any additional comments or feedback that you would like to provide, please provide written comments to energymarkets@mbie.govt.nz by 7 December 2018.

Material incorporated by reference 

Public Notice – Access to Material Incorporated by Reference

The NPS incorporates the following material by reference:

  • International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection Guidelines for limiting exposure to time varying electric magnetic fields (up to 300 GHz) (Health Physics, 1998, 74(4): 494-522)
  • World Health Organisation monograph Environment Health Criteria (No 238, June 2007)

This incorporated material can be inspected by appointment free of charge from the Ministry for the Environment’s head office at the following address.

Environment House
23 Kate Sheppard Place
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

To make an appointment to inspect the incorporated material, please contact the Ministry for the Environment on:

Email: information@mfe.govt.nz
Phone: (04) 439 7537

Photocopying of incorporated material will not be permitted.

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