The Government has recently responded to an evolving
telecommunications landscape as it continues to roll out additional
national planning direction in the form of national policy
statements (NPSs) and national environmental
On 1 January 2017, the National Environmental Standards for
Telecommunication Facilities 2016 (NESTF 2016)
will replace the National Environmental Standards for
Telecommunication Facilities 2008 (NESTF
It is encouraging to see greater use of national planning
documents to facilitate national objectives and priorities. In the
case of the NESTF 2016, it is the roll out of eagerly awaited
ultra-fast broadband and broadband to rural areas.
What is the NESTF?
The NESTF 2008 was designed to provide a nationally consistent
planning framework for low impact telecommunication activities.
Subject to specified conditions, certain telecommunications
activities are permitted and therefore can be carried out without
A review of the NESTF in 2013 showed that the NESTF 2008 had
overall achieved its objectives. For example, it reduced compliance
costs for the industry and accelerated the entry of 2Degrees Mobile
into the market. However, the review also highlighted that as
telecommunications technology was evolving rapidly, a number of key
network activities were not covered by the NESTF 2008.
Consequently the NESTF 2016 widens the scope of the NESTF 2008
by classifying more activities as permitted. This means that
subject to meeting prescribed standards, network operators will not
require resource consent for the installation and operation of:
Cabinets – the casing around equipment necessary to
operate a telecommunication network
Small cell units – devices that receive or transmit
Additional activities now provided for in the NESTF 2016 include
aerial and underground telecommunication cables, extra antennas at
existing sites and antennas on buildings. The prescribed standards
refer to a range of matters, such as the structure's location,
size, noise limits and radiofrequency fields.
Some of the standards will require compliance with certain
district and regional rules, such as rules relating to tree
protection, historic heritage, visual amenity landscapes,
outstanding natural landscapes, significant habitats for indigenous
vegetation and fauna, coastal protection and earthworks. These
standards retain some local planning input and reduce the adverse
effects of telecommunication structures.
For advice on how the NESTF 2016 may affect you, or for
information on any other proposed NPS or NES, please contact one of
the team to discuss.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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