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Draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land

Draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land

Draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries are currently seeking consultation on a proposed National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (“NPS-HPL”). Submissions on the proposed NPS on Highly Productive Land close on 10 October 2019.

The draft NPS-HPL follows a report known as ‘Our land’ 2018, which identified the two main pressures facing highly productive land on the edge of towns and cities as the expansion of urban areas, and the change of land-use on the fringes of urban areas, in particular the increase in lifestyle blocks. The absence of considered decision making is contributing to urban expansion over highly productive land, and there is a lack of clarity in the RMA on how to manage highly productive land.

The stated overall purpose of the NPS-HPL is to improve the way that highly productive land is managed under the RMA and to protect it from inappropriate use, development or subdivision.  That is because highly productive land provides significant economic and employment benefits to communities and underpins the value of New Zealand’s primary sector. Local authorities will be required to identify highly productive land based on defined criteria, such as soil capacity, climate, water availability, and size.  Land classified as Class 1-3 under the Land-Use Capability (“LUC”) system will be highly productive land by default.

The Government intends to provide guidance and technical assistance to support councils is to identify highly productive land and to maintain it for “primary production”. The proposed NPS requires the identification of “sensitive activities”, with the intention of encouraging setbacks and buffers between areas of highly productive land and adjacent residential and rural residential areas.

As noted in previous articles about other draft National Policy Statements and national planning instruments which have recently been notified for submissions, a key challenge for local authorities will be to reconcile how those various instruments while giving effect to each.  While these implications may not be realised for some time, it is anticipated that there is likely to be some case law to follow.  Tompkins Wake will be keeping a watching brief of developments and will provide updates as the NPS-HPL progresses.


 For assistance with questions relating to this article, please contact one of our local government partners, Bridget Parham or Theresa Le Bas.

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