Urban development and freshwater

Allowing for growth must not be at the expense of well-functioning, vibrant urban and natural environments.

Urban water bodies are highly valued ecosystems that can provide refuge to some of our most threatened species. Increased connections to urban waterbodies can also provide benefits to communities’ well-being. Unfortunately, waterbodies dominated by urban land uses are some of New Zealand’s most degraded. The Government is consulting on national direction for freshwater management, including proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) and proposed National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. These broaden the focus of the amendments to the NPS-FM to all aspects of freshwater ecosystem health, in urban and rural environments.

These amendments:

  • Provide a mechanism for local authorities to identify areas where development may not be appropriate because of the likely effects on highly valued freshwater environments
  • Intend to recognise the importance of urban streams and encourage urban design that protects them, while also recognising that in some cases piping and reclamation may be unavoidable when providing for urban growth
  • Intend to help ensure decisions about managing freshwater in urban environments can be made in an integrated way as part of wider decisions about urban form

The proposed National Policy Statement: Highly Productive Land

While the RMA requires components of highly productive land, including soil, be protected, in practical terms this is not playing out, with urban growth pressures overriding retention of highly productive land.

Water is highlighted in this proposed NPS as the availability, quality and quantity of water could limit the potential use of agricultural land, especially in the horticulture industry.

The intention behind this proposed national policy statement is to ensure that we’re using this valuable resource effectively.

To find out more about the proposed National Policy Statement: Highly Productive Land visit the consultation page.