The National Policy Statement (NPS) for
Freshwater Management was gazetted on 12 May 2011 and takes effect
from 1 July this year. From that date, consent authorities must
have regard to the NPS when granting resource consents.
The aim of the NPS is to drive national consistency in managing
and allocating fresh water. It requires regional councils to set
limits on fresh water quality and the quantity of water taken from
rivers, aquifers and lakes.
Key provisions include:
Objectives to protect the quality of outstanding freshwater
bodies,protect the significant values of wetlands and improve the
quality of fresh water where degradation has occurred through over
A policy requiring regional plans to include objectives and
quality limits having regard to the connection between water bodies
and the reasonably foreseeable impact of climate change.
A policy requiring the establishment of rules to avoid over
allocation of water.
A policy requiring the imposition of conditions on discharge
permits to ensure that water quality policies can be met, including
requiring the adoption of the best practicable option to
prevent/minimise any effect on the environment of any
An objective to avoid any further over allocation of fresh
water and phase out existing over allocation.
A policy requiring the imposition of criteria by which
applications for approval of transfers of water take permits are to
be decided, including those to improve and maximise the efficient
allocation of water.
A policy requiring the identification of methods to encourage
the efficient use of water.
A policy requiring regional councils to ensure that no
decision they make will likely result in future over allocation of
water and requiring a defined timeframe to be set in which over
allocation of water must be phased out.
The NPS inserts two transitional policies directly into regional
plans. These require Councils to consider specific criteria when
making decisions on resource consent applications lodged on or
after 1 July 2011.
The transitional policies apply to new activities and to changes
to existing activities where discharges to water will be increased
or the intensity/scale of existing activities is likely to result
in more than minor adverse changes in the natural variability of
water flows or levels. The purpose of the transitional arrangements
is to ensure that such effects are considered and managed pending
the inclusion of new water quality and quantity limits in regional
There is also a programme for progressive implementation of the
NPS. Regional Councils are required to implement the new policies
as promptly as is 'reasonable in the circumstances', with
full completion required by 31 December 2030. This will mean that
Regional Councils must amend their regional policy statements,
proposed plans and variations to give effect to the NPS. Where
Councils cannot implement the NPS by the end of 2014, they must
identify a staged programme to meet the 2030 end date against which
they must report annually on their progress.
This publication is intended as a general overview and
discussion of the subjects dealt with. It is not intended to be,
and should not used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any
specific situation. DLA Piper Australia will accept no
responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of
DLA Piper Australia is part of DLA Piper, a global law firm,
operating through various separate and distinct legal entities. For
further information, please refer to www.dlapiper.com
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This legal update is an overview of existing eligible project activities and new project types proposed to be developed.
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