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Secure and reliable electricity transmission

11 March 2008 Media Statement

Secure and reliable electricity transmission – policy stmt

A new National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission will require decision makers to consider the national significance of a reliable and secure electricity supply - as well as adverse environmental effects - when they assess proposals for New Zealand's national grid, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

The policy statement, approved by Cabinet yesterday, gives guidance to local government across New Zealand for the management and future planning of the national grid. It will be formally gazetted on Thursday and will take effect 28 days later.

"The main purpose of the national policy statement is to make it explicit that electricity transmission is a matter of national significance under the Resource Management Act in order to meet the electricity needs of present and future generations of New Zealanders," Trevor Mallard said.

"An efficient and well-managed electricity supply on the national grid is vital for communities, the environment and businesses around the country. This national policy statement will ensure that there is a balanced consideration of these national benefits and the local effects of electricity transmission.
"Previously, there was no national framework that local government could use when they had to decide on proposals for transmission lines.

"The national policy statement contains 14 policies intended to facilitate the operation, maintenance and upgrade of the existing network and any new transmission networks, while at the same time managing any adverse environmental effects of the network, and managing the adverse effects of other activities on the network.

"The policy statement is the result of a robust statutory process of public consultation under the Resource Management Act," said Trevor Mallard.

An independent Board of Inquiry, chaired by Hon Peter Salmon QC with Prue Kapua and Russell Howie as members, was appointed in 2007 to hear public views on the proposed statement and prepare recommendations. Seventy-one submissions were received and hearings were held during August 2007. The board submitted its report and recommendations to the Minister for the Environment in November 2007. The final national policy statement (attached) mirrors the recommendations of the board. The relevant cabinet paper is at www.mfe.govt.nz

"As a key element of the New Zealand Energy Strategy, the government is also preparing a national policy statement on renewable electricity generation, covering energy produced from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, tidal, wave and ocean current sources. We have confirmed that a board of inquiry will also be charged with its development. This work will help ensure the national significance of renewable energy is considered fully by local decision makers," Trevor Mallard said.

"These two national policy statements together will contribute to a stronger policy framework for renewable energy and the Labour-led government's goal of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2025."

Background Note: The national grid is the high voltage transmission network that carries electricity around the country. It is made up of over 12,000 km of high-voltage transmission lines and more than 170 substations. It connects power stations to substations that feed local electricity distribution networks.


NATIONAL POLICY STATEMENT
ON ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION


Contents
Preamble
1 Title
2 Commencement
3 Interpretation
4 Matter of national significance
5 Objective
6 Recognition of the national benefits of transmission
7 Managing the environment effects of transmission
8 Managing the adverse effects of third parties on the 6 transmission network
9 Maps
10 Long-term strategic planning for transmission assets

PREAMBLE

This national policy statement sets out the objective and policies to enable the management of the effects of the electricity transmission network under the Resource Management Act 1991.

In accordance with section 55(2A)(a) of the Act, and within four years of approval of this national policy statement, local authorities are to notify and process under the First Schedule to the Act a plan change or review to give effect as appropriate to the provisions of this national policy statement.

The efficient transmission of electricity on the national grid plays a vital role in the well-being of New Zealand, its people and the environment. Electricity transmission has special characteristics that create challenges for its management under the Act. These include:

 Transporting electricity efficiently over long distances requires support structures (towers or poles), conductors, wires and cables, and sub-stations and switching stations.
 These facilities can create environmental effects of a local, regional and national scale. Some of these effects can be significant.
 The transmission network is an extensive and linear system which makes it important that there are consistent policy and regulatory approaches by local authorities.
 Technical, operational and security requirements associated with the transmission network can limit the extent to which it is feasible to avoid or mitigate all adverse environmental effects.
 The operation, maintenance and future development of the transmission network can be significantly constrained by the adverse environmental impact of third party activities and development.
 The adverse environmental effects of the transmission network are often local – while the benefits may be in a different locality and/or extend beyond the local to the regional and national – making it important that those exercising powers and functions under the Act balance local, regional and national environmental effects (positive and negative).
 Ongoing investment in the transmission network and significant upgrades are expected to be required to meet the demand for electricity and to meet the Government’s objective for a renewable energy future, therefore strategic planning to provide for transmission infrastructure is required.

The national policy statement is to be applied by decision-makers under the Act. The objective and policies are intended to guide decision-makers in drafting plan rules, in making decisions on the notification of the resource consents and in the determination of resource consent applications, and in considering notices of requirement for designations for transmission activities.

However, the national policy statement is not meant to be a substitute for, or prevail over, the Act’s statutory purpose or the statutory tests already in existence. Further, the national policy statement is subject to Part 2 of the Act.

For decision-makers under the Act, the national policy statement is intended to be a relevant consideration to be weighed along with other considerations in achieving the sustainable management purpose of the Act.

This preamble may assist the interpretation of the national policy statement, where this is needed to resolve uncertainty.

1 TITLE

This national policy statement is the National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission 2008.

2 COMMENCEMENT

This national policy statement comes into force on the 28th day after the date on which it is notified in the Gazette.

3 INTERPRETATION

In this national policy statement, unless the context otherwise requires:

Act means the Resource Management Act 1991.

Decision-makers means all persons exercising functions and powers under the Act.

Electricity transmission network, electricity transmission and transmission activities/assets/infrastructure/resources/system all mean part of the national grid of transmission lines and cables (aerial, underground and undersea, including the high-voltage direct current link), stations and sub-stations and other works used to connect grid injection points and grid exit points to convey electricity throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

National environmental standard means a standard prescribed by regulations made under the Act.

National grid means the assets used or owned by Transpower NZ Limited.

Sensitive activities includes schools, residential buildings and hospitals.
4 MATTER OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE

The matter of national significance to which this national policy statement applies is the need to operate, maintain, develop and upgrade the electricity transmission network.

5 OBJECTIVE

To recognise the national significance of the electricity transmission network by facilitating the operation, maintenance and upgrade of the existing transmission network and the establishment of new transmission resources to meet the needs of present and future generations, while:

 managing the adverse environmental effects of the network; and
 managing the adverse effects of other activities on the network.

6 RECOGNITION OF THE NATIONAL BENEFITS OF TRANSMISSION

POLICY 1

In achieving the purpose of the Act, decision-makers must recognise and provide for the national, regional and local benefits of sustainable, secure and efficient electricity transmission. The benefits relevant to any particular project or development of the electricity transmission network may include:

i) maintained or improved security of supply of electricity; or
ii) efficient transfer of energy through a reduction of transmission losses; or
iii) the facilitation of the use and development of new electricity generation, including renewable generation which assists in the management of the effects of climate change; or
iv) enhanced supply of electricity through the removal of points of congestion.

The above list of benefits is not intended to be exhaustive and a particular policy, plan, project or development may have or recognise other benefits.


7 MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF TRANSMISSION

POLICY 2

In achieving the purpose of the Act, decision-makers must recognise and provide for the effective operation, maintenance, upgrading and development of the electricity transmission network.

POLICY 3

When considering measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse environmental effects of transmission activities, decision-makers must consider the constraints imposed on achieving those measures by the technical and operational requirements of the network.

POLICY 4

When considering the environmental effects of new transmission infrastructure or major upgrades of existing transmission infrastructure, decision-makers must have regard to the extent to which any adverse effects have been avoided, remedied or mitigated by the route, site and method selection.

POLICY 5

When considering the environmental effects of transmission activities associated with transmission assets, decision-makers must enable the reasonable operational, maintenance and minor upgrade requirements of established electricity transmission assets.

POLICY 6

Substantial upgrades of transmission infrastructure should be used as an opportunity to reduce existing adverse effects of transmission including such effects on sensitive activities where appropriate.

POLICY 7

Planning and development of the transmission system should minimise adverse effects on urban amenity and avoid adverse effects on town centres and areas of high recreational value or amenity and existing sensitive activities.

POLICY 8

In rural environments, planning and development of the transmission system should seek to avoid adverse effects on outstanding natural landscapes, areas of high natural character and areas of high recreation value and amenity and existing sensitive activities.

POLICY 9

Provisions dealing with electric and magnetic fields associated with the electricity transmission network must be based on the International Commission on Non-ioninsing Radiation Protection Guidelines for limiting exposure to time varying electric magnetic fields (up to 300 GHz) (Health Physics, 1998, 74(4): 494-522) and recommendations from the World Health Organisation monograph Environment Health Criteria (No 328, June 2007) or revisions thereof and any applicable New Zealand standards or national environmental standards.


8 MANAGING THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THIRD PARTIES ON THE TRANSMISSION NETWORK

POLICY 10

In achieving the purpose of the Act, decision-makers must to the extent reasonably possible manage activities to avoid reverse sensitivity effects on the electricity transmission network and to ensure that operation, maintenance, upgrading, and development of the electricity transmission network is not compromised.

POLICY 11

Local authorities must consult with the operator of the national grid, to identify an appropriate buffer corridor within which it can be expected that sensitive activities will generally not be provided for in plans and/or given resource consent. To assist local authorities to identify these corridors, they may request the operator of the national grid to provide local authorities with its medium to long-term plans for the alteration or upgrading of each affected section of the national grid (so as to facilitate the long-term strategic planning of the grid).


9 MAPS

POLICY 12

Territorial authorities must identify the electricity transmission network on their relevant planning maps whether or not the network is designated.


10 LONG-TERM STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR TRANSMISSION ASSETS

POLICY 13

Decision-makers must recognise that the designation process can facilitate long-term planning for the development, operation and maintenance of electricity transmission infrastructure.

POLICY 14

Regional councils must include objectives, policies and methods to facilitate long-term planning for investment in transmission infrastructure and its integration with land uses.


Explanatory note

This note is not part of the national policy statement but is intended to indicate its general effect
This national policy statement comes into force 28 days after the date of its notification in the Gazette. It provides that electricity transmission is a matter of national significance under the Resource Management Act 1991 and prescribes an objective and policies to guide the making of resource management decisions.

The national policy statement requires local authorities to give effect to its provisions in plans made under the Resource Management Act 1991 by initiating a plan change or review within four years of its approval.

ENDS

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