The NES set out a national framework of permissions and consent requirements for activities on existing electricity transmission lines. Activities include the operation, maintenance and upgrading of existing lines.
They set out which transmission activities are permitted, subject to conditions to control the environmental effects.
- consent requirements for activities which fail to meet the permitted activity conditions
- that electricity transmission activities are permitted, subject to terms and conditions to ensure that these activities do not have significant adverse effects on the environment
- the resource consent requirements for electricity transmission activities that do not meet the terms and conditions for permitted activities.
The NES only apply to existing high voltage electricity transmission lines. They do not apply to the construction of new transmission lines or to substations. The NES do not apply to electricity distribution lines – these are the lines carrying electricity from regional substations to electricity users.
Activities that are permitted include:
- operating existing transmission lines
- maintaining conductors (wires) and adding a limited number of conductors provided limits on electric and magnetic fields are not exceeded
- signs on transmission line support structures (within specified size limits)
- strengthening, upgrading and replacing support structures and foundations.
Activities which need resource consent
For ‘controlled’ activities the council has the discretion to impose conditions on specified matters, but cannot decline the consent (unless insufficient information is provided). Some activities that fail the permitted activity conditions will be controlled. Examples include placing overhead transmission lines underground, moving poles and towers more than a specified distance from their existing location, and discharges to water that are more than minor.
For ‘restricted discretionary’ activities the council may decline the consent or grant it subject to conditions on specified matters. Some activities that fail the permitted activity terms and conditions will be restricted discretionary. Examples include moving poles and pylons beyond the distanced specified for a controlled activity, earthworks on potentially contaminated land, and adding circuits.
For ‘discretionary’ activities the council may decline the consent or grant it with or without conditions. Any transmission activities that are not listed elsewhere in the NES would be discretionary.
For ‘non-complying’ activities the council may decline the consent or grant it with or without conditions. The council may grant resource consent for a non-complying activity only if it is satisfied that the adverse effects on the environment will be no more than minor or the application is for an activity that will not be contrary to the objectives and policies of the relevant plan or proposed plan.
Public notification of resource consent applications
It is the council’s decision whether to publicly notify a resource consent application or not. If the council does decide to publicly notify a resource consent application, then it will consider submissions in deciding whether to grant consent or not.
Further information on notification decision-making is available on the Quality Planning website.
Rights of access to private land
The RMA cannot confer any rights of access to private land. Existing access provisions (under the Electricity Act or through existing easement agreements) will not be affected in any way by the NES.
About current plan rules
- Rules in regional and/or district plans may not be more lenient than a NES (ie, authorise an activity that the NES restricts). So, any rules in a plan or proposed plan which are more lenient than the NES cease to have effect.
- The NES do not allow plan rules to be more stringent (ie, to prohibit or restrict an activity that the NES permits or authorises).
- Councils need to revise their plans as soon as practicable to remove rules that duplicate or conflict with provision(s) in the NES.
- Councils do not need to undertake consultation to amend their plans to be consistent with the NES. For more guidance see NES for Electricity Transmission Activities: Inclusion in district and regional plans