Amendments to the National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL)
The NPS-HPL came into effect on 17 October 2022. Since then, two issues have been identified about its restrictions on non-land-based uses and development. These are:
- The lack of a clear consent pathway for construction of new “specified infrastructure” (which includes renewable energy, such as solar farms) on highly productive land (HPL) in clause 3.9(2)(j)(i) of the NPS-HPL; and
- The lack of a clear consent pathway for development and relocation of intensive indoor primary production and greenhouses on HPL.
The discussion document can be found here: Potential-amendments-to-the-NPS-HPL-discussion-document.pdf (environment.govt.nz)
Consent Pathway for “Specified Infrastructure”
The proposed change is to clause 3.9 of the NPS-HPL which states that:
3.9(2) A use or development of HPL is inappropriate except where at least one of the following applies to the use or development…
(j) It is associated with one of the following, and there is a functional or operational need for the use or development to be on the HPL:
(i) The maintenance, operation, upgrade, or expansion of specified infrastructure:
As currently worded, the NPS-HPL does not provide a clear consent pathway for construction of specified infrastructure on HPL, only its “maintenance, operation, upgrade or expansion”’. This limits the ability to construct new specified infrastructure on HPL at pace and limits certain providers (such as renewable energy generators or installers of fibre who are not requiring authorities).
The Government has identified two options to address this issue and has indicated that it considers that the amendment in the second option is necessary. The options are as follows:
- Maintain the status quo which would allow time for the NPS-HPL to be given effect to in plans, policy statements and consent decisions (this would likely take some time); or
- Amend clause 3.9(j)(i) to include the word ‘construction’.
The amendment suggested in the second option (which is the Government’s preferred option) would provide a clear consent pathway for construction of new specified infrastructure on HPL.
Consent Pathway for Intensive Indoor Primary Production and Greenhouses
The NPS-HPL also does not provide for a clear consent pathway for development of new intensive indoor primary production and greenhouses. To address this issue the Government has suggested that the NPS-HPL could be amended to provide for a pathway for developing and relocating intensive indoor primary productions on HPL, but has identified that this option is misaligned with the policy objectives of the NPS-HPL. No preference was given to this option over keeping the status quo.
The Government is seeking submissions and feedback on the proposed options. Submissions close on 31 October 2023. If you have any queries regarding the proposed amendments to the NPS-HPL or if you wish to make a submission please do not hesitate to contact us.