What is a National Policy Statement?

National Policy Statements are issued by central government to provide direction to local government about how to carry out responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991, when it comes to matters of national significance.

The Otago Regional Council is required to give effect to any relevant National Policy Statements, through objectives, policies and rules in plans.

What is the effect of a National Policy Statement?

National Policy Statements guide subsequent decision-making under the Resource Management Act at the national, regional and district levels and can therefore significantly affect resource management practices in New Zealand.

Regional policy statements, regional plans, and district plans are all required to give effect to all national policy statements. The phrase “give effect to” means “implement”. In our case this means that our regional plans and policies must be in line with the framework laid out in these National Policy Statements.

 

NOTE: There is currently a consultation underway for a number of National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards. The rules and guidelines in our new water plan are likely to change in order to be compliant with these new NPS. A brief overview of the proposed changes are covered here.

Click here to visit the Ministry for the Environment consultation page, and have your say.

National Policy Statement: Freshwater Management 2014 (amended 2017)

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) sets out an approach to the management of freshwater through a framework that considers and recognises Te Mana o te Wai as an integral part of freshwater management.

For more detailed information about the requirements of the NPS-FM see Guidance on implementing the NPS-FM  or read the NPS-FM itself.

The ORC will be giving effect to, or implementing, the NPS-FM in stages, ultimately ending up with a new plan to manage freshwater. In order to demonstrate this, the ORC adopted a Progressive Implementation Programme (PIP) in October 2018 that sets out, at a high level, the steps that will need to be undertaken to fully implement the NPS-FM.

Part of the PIP was to identify Freshwater Management Units (FMUs), which is a mandatory NPS-FM requirement. FMUs are a water body, or group of water bodies, that should be managed together. ORC adopted our FMUs in April 2019, and these will form the basis for community engagement and consultation to implement the NPS-FM. This will ensure the relevant requirements, including rules, reflect the values of the affected communities.

The NPS-FM must be fully implemented no later than 31 December 2025 (or 31 December 2030 in certain circumstances). In order to meet this requirement, the Otago Regional Council has put together a Progressive Implementation Programme (PIP).

  

NOTE: There is currently a consultation underway for a collection of new National Policy Statements, including a new National Policy Statement: Freshwater Management. The rules and guidelines in our new Water Plan are likely to change in order to be compliant with this proposed National Policy Statement: Freshwater Management. A brief overview of the proposed changes are covered here. Click here to visit the Ministry for the Environment consultation page, and have your say.

In a nutshell, the National Policy Statement: Freshwater Management 2014 (amended 2017) directs regional councils, in consultation with their communities, to set objectives for the state of fresh water bodies in their regions. To meet those objectives, they then set limits on resource use (e.g. water takes). The progress of each waterway must be monitored to ensure that progress is being made as expected.

Some of the key aspects of the National Policy Statement: Freshwater Management are described below.

   

Te Mana o te Wai recognises the connection between water and the broader environment – Te Hauora o te Taiao (the health of the environment), Te Hauora o te Wai (the health of the waterbody) and Te Hauora o te Tangata (the health of the people). The values of each waterway, and the value of the community around it, must be established through engagement and discussion with that community. This is a fundamental part of setting freshwater objectives and limits for each waterway.

A freshwater management unit (FMU) is very broadly defined by the NPS-FM as:

“A water body, multiple water bodies or any part of a water body determined by the regional council as the appropriate spatial scale for setting freshwater objectives and limits and for freshwater accounting and management.

In Otago we’ve established FMUs by following ki uta ki tai – from the mountains to the sea. We follow our rivers from their source, through the land, and out to sea. This way we can measure the health of each waterway as a whole; their strong points, their weak points, and the values of all those who rely on, and interact with them along the way. This gives us the overall perspective needed to impact the quality of the ecosystems around, and within, that waterway.

Our largest FMU, the Clutha/Mata-au FMU, has been subdivided into five rohe (areas) that have similarities. Each of these rohe will share some of the same rules and guidelines because of their relationship to the Clutha/Mata-au River, but they will each also have specific rules that suit the needs and challenges in their areas.

We know that what is important for one waterway, and the community around it, may not be the same for a waterway on the other side of Otago. Breaking Otago up into Freshwater Management Units will help us to focus on making sure that your waterway and your community are given the attention and advocacy that they deserve in the process of establishing the new water plan.

Stage

Process

Completed by

Establish Freshwater Management Units (FMUs)

Objective CA 1 and Policy CA1 outline the process for setting Freshwater Management Units. This would be confirmed by Council resolution.

April 2019

Develop framework for Water Management in Otago

 

 

 

S 79 review of Water Plan, including three waters, land use gaps

 

 

 

 

Stocktake and gap analysis of water plan against the NPS-FM, NES Drinking Water, and other relevant National Direction

Consolidation of existing work programmes

 

Alignment with Rural Water Quality Strategy, where practical

April 2020, comprising the following:

 

S79 review commencing February 2019;

 

Land use gaps identified by July 2019;

 

Stocktake and gap analysis completed by April 2019

 

 

Analysis of Rural Water Quality Strategy

Technical and specialist work Programme to understand baseline knowledge

Stocktake of baseline information for each FMUs

August 2019

Values conversation

Policy CA2 outlines the value setting process

Commencing October 2019, and progressively moving through each FMU

Technical and specialist Work Programme to support limit setting

Using the values to understand the technical work programme required to set objectives

Commencing August 2019

Plan review

 

Notified December 2025

New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010

The management of coastal water is directed by the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (NZCPS). The Resource Management Act (1991) defines ‘coastal water’ as seawater with a substantial freshwater component, and seawater found in fiords, inlets, embayments, harbours and estuaries.

Both the NPS-FM and the NZCPS provide direction on the management of fresh water in the coastal environment. Freshwater objectives and limits for freshwater bodies in the coastal environment must give effect to both policy statements. Policies and objectives of the NZCPS that are particularly relevant to the National Policy Statement: Freshwater Management 2014(amended 2017) are:

 

For more detailed information about the requirements of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 visit the Department of Conservation website.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016 (NPS-UDC) recognises the national significance of urban environments and the need to enable such environments to develop and change.

Urban development has direct impacts on water. The density of populations in urban areas mean that they require large and reliable sources of drinking water, and increasingly large wastewater treatment systems. The low proportion of absorbent surfaces creates reliance on stormwater systems, and these need to be maintained in order to prevent the pollution of waterways. Over 90% of river length in urban areas have nitrogen levels that may affect the growth of some aquatic species. There are also significant problems with the levels of heavy metals, E. coli, and sediment in these urban waterways. While the number of waterways impacted is low, due to the compact nature of urban areas, the intensity and consistency of this and other problems demonstrate a need to consider urban water management at a national level.

The current NPS-UDC does not include guidelines in relation to waterways or water pollution. This has been addressed in a regulatory impact statement, and has been remedied in the newly proposed National Policy Statement: Urban Development.

For more detailed information about the requirements of the National Policy Statement: Urban Development Capacity (2016) see Guidance on implementing the NPS-UDC or read the Urban Development Capacity NPS itself.

Note: There is currently a consultation underway for a collection of new National Policy Statements, including a new National Policy Statement: Urban Development.