National policy statement on electricity transmission

The National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission sets out the objective and policies for managing the electricity transmission network. 

Official title

National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission

Lead agency

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

In force from

13 March 2008


The Government is proposing to strengthen national direction for renewable electricity generation and electricity transmission. This is to provide consistency with Aotearoa New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets that support the pace of development required to decarbonise the economy.

See the proposals [MBIE website]

The consultation closed on 1 June 2023 

Why it is needed

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.

The national grid is the high voltage transmission network that carries electricity around the country. It is made up of over 12,000 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines and more than 165 substations. It connects power stations to substations that feed local electricity distribution networks.

The Government developed a national policy statement to acknowledge the national significance of the national grid and to ensure there is balanced consideration of the national benefits and the local effects of electricity transmission. Previously, there was no national framework that local government could use when they decided on proposals for transmission lines.

What it covers

The NPS provides a high-level framework that gives guidance across New Zealand for the management and future planning of the national grid.

It does the following:

  • acknowledges the national significance of the national grid, which has to be considered in local decision making on resource management
  • gives guidance to local decision makers in the management of the impacts of the transmission network on its environment
  • recognises the national benefits we all get from electricity transmission, such as better security of supply of electricity
  • guides the management of the adverse effects of activities from third parties on the grid which helps reduce constraints on the operation, maintenance, upgrading and development of the grid
  • ensures long-term strategic planning for elements of the national grid.

Requirements for councils and the grid operator

The NPS directly affects decision-makers in local government. They have to take the NPS into account when drafting plans and have regard for it when making decisions about resource consents, alongside other considerations under the RMA.

The NPS does not refer to any individual transmission network projects but it forms part of the overall policy framework and contains policies that will need to be taken into account when individual projects are considered under the RMA.

The NPS will also have to be considered by the grid operator.


Implementation guidance

The following guidance provides commentary and examples to help councils give effect to the NPS. 

There has been some confusion regarding the NPS and section 55 RMA requirements. The preamble to the NPS refers to section 55 of the RMA prior to the 2009 amendments. As a result councils have an obligation to use the process set out in Schedule 1 of the RMA to process any plan change or review required to give effect to the NPS.

Guidance on risks of development near high-voltage transmission lines

The NPS requires local authorities to manage adverse effects caused by development near high-voltage transmission lines.

What you also need to refer to

The NPS incorporates the following material by reference:

  • International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection Guidelines for limiting exposure to time varying electric magnetic fields (up to 300 GHz) (Health Physics, 1998, 74(4): 494-522)
  • World Health Organisation monograph Environment Health Criteria (No 238, June 2007)

This incorporated material can be inspected by appointment free of charge from the Ministry for the Environment’s head office at the following address.

Environment House
23 Kate Sheppard Place
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

To make an appointment to inspect the incorporated material, please email

Photocopying of incorporated material will not be permitted.