New RMA standard to streamline telecommunications upgrades

  • Nick Smith
  • Amy Adams
Environment Communications

Changes to modernise and streamline the National Environmental Standard (NES) for telecommunications facilities will speed up improvements and reduce costs for consumers, Communications Minister Amy Adams and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today at the Resource Management Law Association conference.

“Connectivity plays an important role in the lives of New Zealanders - it has transformed the way we live, work and do business. The updated NES provides national consistency for a greater range of telecommunications infrastructure and will speed up the availability of major rollouts such as Ultra-Fast Broadband, the Rural Broadband Initiative, and 4G,” Ms Adams says. 

“This new standard will reduce by thousands the number of resource consents required in upgrading New Zealand’s telecommunications infrastructure.  Installations like wi-fi panels, street cabinets, light pole antennas and cabling will not require consents where they meet the national environmental standards, saving millions in compliance costs,” Dr Smith says.

Today’s announcement follows the release of a discussion document for public feedback in March this year.

“Under the new rules, telecommunications operators will not need to apply for resource consent for common activities such as deploying fibre, upgrading antennas, co-locating multiple operators’ antennas, and installing new rural sites, provided they meet specified conditions,” Ms Adams says.

The current NES only covers a small range of antennas and cabinets in the road reserve.

“These changes to the NES come ahead of wider improvements to national direction which will be made through the Government’s Resource Management Act reforms. The updated NES will replace the assortment of rules with one set of nationally consistent provisions,” Dr Smith says.

Activities that do not qualify as permitted activities under the regulations will continue to be managed by local councils through the existing rules in their district plans, and the NES still requires the consent of the land or building owner.

The new NES will not change the exposure standard for radiofrequency fields. All new telecommunications infrastructure will continue to need to comply with the exposure standard referenced in the NES, which is based on international best practice.

The discussion document and a summary of the submissions is available at: