Government moves to protect elite soils

  • Hon David Parker
  • Hon Damien O’Connor
Agriculture Environment

New Zealand’s most fertile and versatile land will be given new protection under proposals released today by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. 

“Our land is a precious taonga – an irreplaceable treasure and a source of life and wellness for our country,” Damien O’Connor said. 

“One of the greatest challenges facing the world right now is the need to feed a growing population. We have a well-earned reputation for producing some of the best food in the world.

“Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. Once productive land is built on, we can’t use it for food production, which is why we need to act now.

“We cannot afford to lose our most highly productive land. It brings significant economic benefits including employment for nearby communities, and adds significant value to New Zealand’s primary sector,” he said. 

Environment Minister David Parker said the Government’s draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) proposes a nationwide approach to protecting our most productive land for future generations. 

“This stands alongside the new National Policy Statement for Urban Development, which will be released soon, to ensure we get the balance right and that the development we need is in the right place. We need to house our people and to feed them too.” 

About 14 per cent of New Zealand’s land is categorised as highly productive. 

“It’s under increasing pressure from expanding urban areas and the growing number of lifestyle blocks,” David Parker said. 

“The National Policy Statement introduces a clear and consistent policy that councils must follow when making decisions on land use. 

“It proposes that councils be required to ensure there’s enough highly productive land available for primary production now and in the future, and protect it from inappropriate subdivision, use and development. 

“Councils would need to do a full analysis of alternatives, benefits and costs when considering whether urban expansion should be located on highly productive land used for growing food and vegetables and for other primary production.”

The NPS-HPL also supports other important government priorities, including freshwater management.

“We appreciate the input and expertise of many organisations and individuals to the development of the discussion document and proposed National Policy Statement. 

“A two month consultation period starts today and I encourage everyone with an interest to share their views.” 

Notes for editors

The National Policy Statement is part of a discussion document ‘Valuing Highly Productive Land’ available on the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry for Primary Industries websites.

 The Ministry for the Environment and Ministry for Primary Industries will be holding hui and public meetings throughout the country.  Details will be published on the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry for Primary Industries websites.

 Consultation closes at 5pm 10 October 2019.