National environmental standards (NES) are regulations issued under section 43 of the Resource Management Act and can apply regionally or nationally (although all current national Environmental Standards apply nationally). This page explains why we have national environmental standards, and links to standards in effect and in development.
National environmental standards and what they are used for
National environmental standards (NES) are regulations that prescribe standards for environmental matters. The government sets standards where appropriate to ensure a consistent standard for an activity or resource use.
They can prescribe technical and non-technical standards, methods or other requirements for land use and subdivision, use of the coastal marine area and beds of lakes and rivers, water take and use, discharges, or noise. Each regional, city or district council must enforce the same standard. In some circumstances where specified in the NES, councils can impose stricter or more lenient standards.
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 Standards for Electricity Transmission Activities
- National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health
- National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry
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 Standards for Freshwater - we are currently consulting on these. Find out more and have your say
- Proposed National Environmental Standard on Ecological Flows and Water Levels
- Proposed National Environmental Standard for Marine Aquaculture
- Proposed National Environmental Standard for the Outdoor Storage of Tyres
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.
National environment standard withdrawn
The proposed National Environmental Standard for On-site wastewater systems has been withdrawn.