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Ministry for the Environment August Update
26 August 2019
Ministry for the Environment August Update
Tēnā koutou katoa
 
Over the next four months the Ministry for the Environment are consulting on a range of issues that impact our environment and connect to your work in local government.
 
Due to the number of consultations, we are carrying this work out in two stages: the first stage started in August and covers three consultations relating to proposed national direction tools covering fresh water, highly productive land and urban development. In addition we are consulting on regulated product stewardship and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act amendments.
 
The second stage starting later this year covers consultations on the waste disposal levy, ETS regulations, NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity, NES for Air Quality and a discussion document on Freshwater Allocation.
We would like to thank you all for providing input during the development of many of these draft policies and regulatory instruments.  
 
We realise it’s going to be a busy time for you making formal submissions on such a large number of proposals in a short period of time. However your feedback is vital to help shape the final policy and ensure it can be implemented effectively. To help you we are organising a series of public meetings and council workshops around the country. We will be in touch shortly to confirm the time and location of meetings in your region.
 
What's coming up
  • August to October Consultations on: Freshwater NPS and NES, NPS for Highly Productive Land, NPS on Urban Development, regulated product stewardship, Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) amendments.
  • 31 August 2018/19 National Monitoring System (NMS) due date
  • 17 October Our Marine Environment report 2019 released
  • Mid Oct to mid Dec (to be confirmed) Consultations on: Waste Disposal Levy, ETS regulations, NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity, NES for Air Quality and the Freshwater Allocation discussion document. 
 
Join the Kōrero – Have your say
 
We updated you in May about a number of consultations coming up. The first stage of the programme is now underway. We intend to combine discussions about these consultations in regional hui and public and stakeholder meetings throughout the country during September. We are also planning to meet with local councils during our visits.
 
We are also holding the MfE-Council Planning, Policy and Consenting Managers Forum on 26 and 27 August, to give relevant council managers the opportunity to discuss the proposals with the relevant MfE policy teams.
Regulated Product Stewardship - Proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme guidelines - 
 
On Friday 9 August we started consulting on priority products under the Waste Minimisation Act. This is of interest to local councils many of whom are currently involved in voluntary stewardship schemes to support local waste diversion.   
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of per capita waste production in the OECD. Yet New Zealanders are highly concerned about waste. New Zealanders rank waste as one of the three topics they are most concerned about*.
 
The Government is proposing to regulate some harmful products, which would require all manufacturers or retailers of that product to comply with certain conditions to be allowed to sell it. The conditions would be concerned with what happens to that product at the end of its life.
 
We propose that the following products be declared ‘priority products’ under the Waste Minimisation Act:
 
tyres
electrical and electronic products
agrichemicals and their containers
refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases
farm plastics
packaging.
 
Consultation closes on 4 October. 
 
Once the government has considered submissions and the priority products are declared, we propose to co-design the way the scheme will work for each product with the impacted industry.
 
* Ministry for the Environment surveys 2018.
 
Proposed improvements to hazardous substances assessments
 
On Monday 19 August we started consulting on proposed improvements to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act).  The Government approves and sets controls on hazardous substances. It does this to manage potential risks to people and the environment while enabling us to benefit from their use.  There are a large number of hazardous substances in daily use and under development. The Government is proposing to improve the assessment process for hazardous substances so that potential risks are managed and 'greener' substances are encouraged.
 
 
 
Proposed NPS on Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) and Proposed NPS on Urban Development (NPS-UD)
 
The proposed NPS-HPL and NPS-UD were released for public consultation on 14 August and 21 August respectively.
Together these instruments will achieve the most benefit to New Zealand by ensuring there are enough quality houses in areas where people have access to a variety of jobs, amenities, open space, cultural and social facilities and transport options while promoting the best use of our highly productive land resource.
 
To find out how to have your say, including details about public meetings visit our website:
 
 
 Freshwater package
 ‘Exemplar’ catchments
 
The Government recently announced that Kaipara harbour will be the first of what are being called ‘exemplar’ catchments, where government will work with the community to help understand what can make the greatest difference and then what interventions to take, such as where to build and restore wetlands, or where more hillside planting is required to stabilise steep land, as part of this new nationwide programme.
 
 
This announcement has evolved from our ‘at-risk catchments’ programme. Under this programme, we have developed a framework for assessing the range of pressures impacting on freshwater catchments and ranking catchments according to risk. This has been used to generate a national map of catchment risk. This information will help inform the targeting of regulation, investment and potentially other interventions.
 
Alongside this national-level information, we are investing in ‘exemplar’ projects to better understand how to leverage and accelerate community-led action, help target investment, assist with access to a range of other funding support, and identify gaps that could be filled by regulatory or non-regulatory interventions.  We will then help develop integrated catchment management plans and scope projects for community-led activity and initiatives within the exemplar catchments that directly improve water quality at a catchment scale.
 
 
Resource Management Act amendments
 
Minister for the Environment David Parker recently announced a two stage process to reform the RMA . 
 
The first stage is a RMA Amendment Bill, due to be introduced before the end of this year. Minister Parker has signalled this will speed up the timeframes for giving effect to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS-FM). Councils have sought a quicker planning process so they can be more responsive to changing issues.
 
Over half our regional councils are not confident they will complete the plan changes required to give effect to the current NPS - FM by 2025. Most have either extended their timeframe to 2030 or indicated that they might need to do so. 
The change will support the delivery of the Government’s Essential Freshwater programme by introducing a new planning process for regional plan changes needed to protect freshwater.
 
The detail of how water planning processes will be improved will be announced in due course and will be subject to select committee consideration, likely later this year.
 
National direction due for consultation
 
A package of proposed national direction for freshwater, including a new National Policy Statement and proposed National Environmental Standards, is due to be released for consultation on Thursday 5 September.
Throughout the development of these proposals, we have worked closely with a network of advisory groups Te Kāhui Wai Māori, the Freshwater Leaders Group, the Science and Technical Advisory Group and the Regional Sector  Water group.  These groups represent a broad spectrum of New Zealanders. 
 
The Regional Sector Water group has brought the views of local government to the table, including providing advice on what’s already working and what more can be done, and the implementation challenges.  A report from this group, and the other advisory groups, will be published alongside the discussion document for consultation. 
 
Some of the issues being considered in the NES and NPS are:
 
how we strengthen Te Mana O Te Wai as the framework for freshwater management
how to better provide for ecosystem health (water, fish and plant life)
how to better protect wetlands and estuaries
ways to control high-risk farming activities and limit intensification
support to improve farm management practices.
 
This package is intended to deliver immediate action to stop further degradation and loss and reverse past damage to our waterways.  Beyond this we will continue to work on broader system reform, including water allocation.
Proposed National Environmental Standard (NES) for the Outdoor Storage of Tyres.
Public consultation was undertaken in 2017 on the proposed NES. In February 2019, we surveyed regional councils/unitary authorities about outdoor tyre storage. There was broad support amongst councils for an NES.    
 
The proposed NES is as follows:
 
An NES that requires discretionary resource consent for sites with tyre quantities of 200m³ or more stored outdoors.
Sites with quantities smaller than 200m³ would not be subject to NES controls. However, the NES would allow rules in regional plans to be more stringent in accordance with section 43B(1) of the RMA. District plan rules would also be able to deal with adverse effects not dealt with in the NES (e.g. amenity effects) in accordance with section 43A(5)(b) of the RMA.
The NES would only apply to tyres that are being ‘stored’.
 
We have recently undertaken targeted feedback with regional and unitary councils who would be responsible for implementing the proposed NES.  We intend seeking ministerial and Cabinet decisions in October 2019, with a completion timeframe of April 2020, including potentially an exposure draft of the regulations to test with key stakeholders. The NES will be accompanied by implementation guidance.
 
More information: contact Meg Larken 
 
 
Resource Management Reform
 
The Government is overhauling our resource management system, focusing on the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) – the primary legislation governing the use of our land, water and air resources. We are approaching this in two stages.
 
Stage one
Stage one is an amendment bill to Parliament to reduce complexity, increase certainty, restore previous public participation opportunities, and improve RMA processes.  To ensure the Government’s Freshwater programme is achieved it will also introduce a new planning process for freshwater (see above).
We expect the Bill to be introduced in the coming months. Public submissions on the Bill will be called for when it is referred to select committee.
 
Stage two
Stage two of the reform programme is the recently announced comprehensive review of the resource management system, focused on the Resource Management Act. More detail on initial scope proposals is outlined in the Cabinet paper available on the Ministry’s website:  www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/improving-our-resource-management-system
MfE will begin engaging with iwi/Māori and a targeted group of key stakeholders including Local Government New Zealand and the Society of Local Government Managers to test the scope of the review before final scope decisions are made.
This resource management system review will be led by an expert Resource Management Review Panel, chaired by the Hon Tony Randerson.
Later this year, the Panel plans to release an Issues and Options paper on key questions for the review for comment. There will be an opportunity for councils to input into the review as part of this process.
The review will conclude in mid-2020 with a proposal for resource management reform, including some indicative legislative drafting for key sections of the RMA. Cabinet will then consider final review proposals, with more widespread consultation and engagement anticipated to follow.
 
Local authorities can get in touch with Ministry for the Environment relationship managers with any questions, concerns or proposals regarding the review.
Support for implementing the national planning standards
Since the first set of national planning standards (standards) were gazetted in April 2019, MfE have been focusing on providing one-on-one support to councils that are currently drafting plans. We have met with councils to discuss the standards and answer detailed questions. We are also answering email queries, updating guidance and developing new guidance.
Our focus for the coming months will continue to provide support to councils drafting plans. Please let us know if you are in this situation and we haven’t contacted you.
There are a number of useful resources to help you understand the standards coming soon:
We gave a lecture at Massey University which was live-streamed and recorded. We are able to send this recording to you if you are interested.
We are looking to set up an LG connect email group through the Society of Local Government Managers to provide a place for councils who are drafting plans to discuss implementation approaches and the standards.
Step-by-step guidance on re-housing plans will be available on our website soon
New Plymouth District Council are planning to notify their proposed district plan later this year. This will be the first plan that meets the planning standards and will be available in a full eplan format.  
We are currently addressing some minor and technical amendments to the planning standards that have been discovered as implementation begins. Any changes to the planning standards need to be approved by the Minister and then notified and gazetted. Once this happens we will email all councils.
If you have questions, start with the guides. The relevant recommendations on submissions’ report contains helpful information. You can find these at:
https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/national-direction/national-planning-standards.
If you need further help get in touch with us by emailing planningstandards@mfe.govt.nz. We aim to respond to emails within five working days.
Climate change adaptation
National climate change risk assessment
We’re preparing to start work on New Zealand’s first National Climate Change Risk Assessment (NCCRA). The purpose of the NCCRA is to identify and prioritise key risks at a national level, which will be addressed through a national adaptation plan.
To guide the preparation of the NCCRA, an expert panel has produced a risk assessment framework. The framework is being finalised and will be released later this year.
Work is scheduled to start on the NCCRA from September 2019, and to be completed by mid-2020. Preparation of the NCCRA will involve wide engagement with stakeholders, in particular local government, and iwi/Māori. We will be in touch with you over the coming months as we firm up our plans for this work. The NCCRA will be based on existing information. We won’t be asking local government to provide any new data for this assessment, only information that you already hold.
More information: contact Emma Lemire  (emma.lemire@mfe.govt.nz)
Community resilience work
We are working on a cross-Government work programme aimed at improving community resilience and adaptation to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. We are working with local government to scope and develop the joint work programme around five broad themes, including information, use of risk assessment, legal frameworks, and funding and financing. LGNZ is part of this work and there are now three senior representatives from local government on the steering group: Dave Cull (Dunedin), Rachel Reese (Nelson Mayor) and Basil Chamberlain (Taranaki).
This programme provides a significant opportunity to work together to progress and consider key recommendations from the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group.  There is a planned report back to Cabinet in September/October on this work.  
More information: contact Sacha Walters (sacha.walters@mfe.govt.nz)
Upcoming consultations – October to December 2019
Waste Disposal Levy
The waste disposal levy is charged at 40 landfills that accept municipal waste and are subject to the waste disposal levy established under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 (the WMA). The Government uses funds raised from the levy to invest in projects to minimise waste and support the transition to a circular economy approach, including investing in onshore recycling facilities. Local government also receives payments from the fund to help with regional waste minimisation goals.
The Government is considering increasing the levy rate, and expanding the waste disposal levy to more of New Zealand’s landfills. Improving our national data on waste, which at present doesn’t include the composition of what’s going into landfills or the amount of resources that are being diverted, is also being proposed.
The levy funds collected will be invested in greater resource efficiency, reuse, recovery and recycling and effectively decreasing waste to landfill. Consultation, subject to cabinet approval, on changes to the levy is planned for October – December 2019. 
More information: contact Nigel Donovan (nigel.donovan@mfe.govt.nz)
Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) regulations
The NZ ETS is the Government’s principal policy instrument to reduce greenhouse emissions. It will play a vital role in New Zealand meeting domestic and international climate change targets and effecting a transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy.
The NZ ETS is undergoing legislative amendments, which will enable regulations that put a cap on emissions in the scheme by aligning unit supply with NZ’s emission reduction targets.
Consultation in late 2019 will consider options for unit supply and price controls in the NZ ETS which will have significant impacts on the price of emissions. This will be of interest to councils who manage landfills and/or have large areas of plantation forestry.
More information: contact Matt Cowie (matthew.cowie@mfe.govt.nz )
NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB)
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Environment Minister Nanaia Mahuta launched Te Koiroa O Te Koiora, a discussion document that will help form the nation’s biodiversity strategy for the next 20 years on 5 August.
Link to Te Koiroa O Te Koioroa discussion document
The Biodiversity Strategy will link with work on a proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity ((NPSIB). The NPSIB will provide the framework for strengthening indigenous biodiversity management under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), particularly on private land. 
The draft NPSIB will strengthen regulations and Māori decision-making relating to indigenous biodiversity. It will also incorporate RMA requirements to identify, map and protect significant areas of indigenous biodiversity, including the use of standardised criteria, a suite of effects management policies, and targets to encourage restoration of biodiversity.  The draft NPSIB will be finalised through the national direction development process set out in the RMA. Consultation is planned for October/December 2019.
More information: contact Rachel Fyfe (Rachel.fyfe@mfe.govt.nz)
NES for Air Quality
The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality sets a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for all New Zealanders. This review covers the particulate matter-related provisions of the Air Quality NES with an aim to align the standards with the most recent scientific findings on the health impacts of particulate pollution. Consultation is planned to start in late November 2019.  
More information: contact Liz Moncrieff (liz.moncrieff@mfe.govt.nz)
National Direction for renewable energy
The Interim Climate Change Committee’s (ICCC) report “Accelerated electrification: Evidence, analysis and recommendations” was released in June 2019.
The Government has proactively released Cabinet papers responding to the report. There are recommendations in the ICCC’s report that relate to national direction under the Resource Management Act 1991, including that the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation should be revised and a national environmental standard for timely consenting of wind generation be developed.
Taking into consideration these recommendations, the Government is developing a policy package for accelerating renewables uptake and encouraging changes in industrial energy use. A draft of this policy package will be released for public consultation later this year.
More information: contact Janet Humphris (MBIE) (energymarkets@mbie.govt.nz )
Freshwater Allocation discussion document
The proposed national direction for Fresh Water takes immediate steps to stop further degradation and loss, and reverse past damage.  Longer term, as regional councils set limits for nitrogen, a system will be required to allocate who can discharge and how much. Any such system has to provide for new entrants and the development of underdeveloped land. There are a number of complex issues to resolve and it will take time to develop a system. We will be starting a public conversation on these issues later this year or early next year.
More information: contact freshwater@mfe.govt.nz
Marine Environment Report
Look out for the spotlight on marine issues, when we release a report on the state of our marine environment, on 17 October.  This is our second report on the marine domain, and the first of our second cycle of domain reports after Environment Aotearoa 2019 was published in April.  We will update marine indicators and report on the pressures, state and impacts of changes in our marine environment since the last marine report in 2016.
Relationship managers
Our team of relationship managers are out meeting with council staff regularly. They work on a regional basis, acting as a consistent point of contact to help you engage with us. They will support specialist Ministry staff who are already working with you on specific projects and programmes, helping us to engage with you in a more effective manner.
The team is: