This page provides the version of the National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission recommended by the Board of Inquiry in its report to the Minister for the Environment in November 2007.
Proposed National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission
This is the version of the National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission recommended by the Board of Inquiry, in its report to the Minister for the Environment in November 2007. This version was considered by the Minister and informed his decisions on the issue of the approved National Policy Statement in March 2008.
This National Policy Statement (NPS) sets out the objectives and policies to enable the management of the effects of the electricity transmission network under the Resource Management Act 1991.
In accordance with Section 55(2A)(a) of the Resource Management Act, and within four years of approval of this NPS, councils are to notify and process under the First Schedule to the RMA a plan change or review to give effect as appropriate to the provisions of this NPS.
The efficient transmission of electricity on the national grid plays a vital role in the wellbeing of New Zealand, its people and the environment. High voltage electricity transmission has special characteristics that create challenges for its management under the Resource Management Act. These include:
- Transporting electricity efficiently over long distances requires support structures (towers or poles), conductors, wires and cables, and substations and switching stations.
- These facilities can create environmental effects at a local, regional and national scale. Some of these effects can be significant.
- The transmission network is an extensive linear system which makes it important that there are consistent policy and regulatory approaches by local authorities.
- Technical, operational and security requirements associated with the transmission network can limit the extent to which it is feasible to avoid or mitigate all adverse environmental effects.
- The operation, maintenance and future development of the transmission network can be significantly constrained by the adverse environmental impact of third party activities and development.
- The adverse environmental effects of the transmission network are often local – while the benefits may be in a different locality and/or extend beyond the local to the regional and national – making it important that those exercising powers and functions under the Resource Management Act balance local, regional and national environmental effects (positive and negative).
- Ongoing investment in the transmission network and significant upgrades are expected to be required to meet the demand for electricity and to meet the Government’s objective for a renewable energy future, therefore strategic planning to provide for transmission infrastructure is required.
The National Policy Statement is to be applied by all persons exercising functions and powers under the Resource Management Act 1991. The objectives and policies are intended to guide decisionmakers in drafting plan rules, in making decisions on the notification of the resource consents and in the determination of resource consent applications, and in considering notices of requirements for designations for transmission assets. However, the National Policy Statement is not meant to be a substitute for, or prevail over, the Act’s statutory purpose or the statutory tests already in existence. Further, the National Policy Statement is subject to Part 2 of the RMA.
When persons are exercising functions and powers under the Act, the National Policy Statement is intended to be a relevant consideration to be weighed along with other considerations in achieving the sustainable management purpose of the Act.
This preamble may assist the interpretation of the National Policy Statement, where this is needed to resolve uncertainty.
Matter of national significance
The matter of national significance to which this National Policy Statement applies is the need to operate, maintain, develop and upgrade the electricity transmission network.
To recognise the national significance of the electricity transmission network by facilitating the operation, maintenance and upgrade of the existing transmission network and the establishment of new transmission resources to meet the needs of present and future generations, while:
- Managing the adverse environmental effects of the network; and
- Managing the adverse effects of others activities on the network.
Recognition of the national benefits of transmission
In achieving the purpose of the Act all persons exercising functions and powers under it shall recognise and provide for the national, regional and local benefits of sustainable secure and efficient electricity transmission. The benefits relevant to any particular project or development of the electricity transmission network may include:
- Maintained or improved security of supply of electricity.
- Efficient transfer of energy through a reduction of transmission losses.
- The facilitation of the use and development of new electricity generation, including renewable generation which assists in the management of the effects of climate change.
- Enhanced supply of electricity through the removal of points of congestion.
The above list of benefits is not intended to be exhaustive and a particular policy plan project or development may have or recognise other benefits.
Managing the environmental effects of transmission
In achieving the purpose of the Act all persons exercising functions and powers under it shall recognise and provide for the effective operation, maintenance, upgrading and development of the electricity transmission network.
When considering measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse environmental effects of transmission activities, decisionmakers must consider the constraints imposed on achieving those measures by the technical and operational requirements of the network.
When considering the environmental effects of new transmission infrastructure or major upgrades of existing transmission infrastructure, decisionmakers shall have regard to the extent to which any adverse effects have been avoided, remedied or mitigated by the route, site and method selection.
When considering the environmental effects of works associated with transmission assets, decisionmakers shall enable the reasonable operational, maintenance and minor upgrade requirements of established electricity transmission assets.
Substantial upgrades of transmission infrastructure should be used as an opportunity to reduce existing adverse effects of transmission including sensitive activities3 where appropriate.
Planning and development of the transmission system should minimise adverse effects on urban amenity and avoid adverse effects on town centres and areas of high recreational value or amenity and existing sensitive activities4.
In rural environments, planning and development of the transmission system should seek to avoid adverse effects on outstanding natural landscapes, areas of high natural character and areas of high recreation value and amenity and existing sensitive activities5.
Provisions dealing with electric and magnetic fields (EMF’s) associated with the electricity transmission network shall be based on the Icnirp6 guidelines and recommendations from WHO7 or revisions thereof and any applicable New Zealand standards or national environmental standards.
Managing the adverse effects of third parties on the transmission network
In achieving the purpose of the Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it shall to the extent reasonably possible manage activities to avoid reverse sensitivity effects on the electricity transmission network and to ensure that operation, maintenance, upgrading, and development of the electricity transmission network is not compromised.
Councils shall, in conjunction with the operator of the national grid, identify an appropriate buffer corridor within which it can be expected that sensitive activities will generally not be provided for in plans and/or given resource consent. To assist councils determine these corridors, the operator of the national grid will as far as is possible provide councils with its medium to long-term plans for the alteration or upgrading of each affected section of the national grid (so as to facilitate the long-term strategic planning of the grid).
District councils shall identify the electricity transmission network on their relevant planning maps whether or not the network is designated.
Long-term strategic planning for transmission assets
Decisionmakers shall recognise that the designation process can facilitate long-term planning for the development, full operation and maintenance of electricity transmission infrastructure.
Regional councils shall include objectives, policies and methods to facilitate long-term planning for investment in transmission infrastructure and its integration with land uses.
The proposed National Policy Statement will guide local authorities to ensure that all relevant environmental effects are appropriately considered in carrying out their functions under the Resource Management Act.
The proposed National Policy Statement has been prepared in accordance with the Resource Management Act and will not override that Act or any other legislation. The proposed National Policy Statement should be read together with all other relevant planning documents, including the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.
The National Policy Statement will apply to all persons exercising functions and powers under the Resource Management Act. Local authorities are required to give effect to the provisions of the National Policy Statement which shall be included in documents pursuant to s.55(2A)(a) of the Resource Management Act.
“Electricity transmission network” and “electricity transmission” mean the national grid of transmission lines and cables (aerial, underground and undersea, including the high voltage direct current link), stations and sub-stations and other works used to connect grid injection points and grid exit points to convey electricity throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand. “National grid” means the assets used or owned by Transpower NZ Limited.
3 Sensitive activities include schools, residential, hospitals and similar land uses.
6 ICNIRP means International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection. Guidelines for limiting exposure to time varying electric magnetic and electromagnetic fields (up to 300 GHz). Health Physics 1998, 74(4): 494-522.
7 WHO means World Health Organisation, Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No 28, June 2007.