The Ministry for the Environment released a draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) in November 2019 for consultation with submissions due in March 2020.
The draft NPS-IB sets a bottom line for the maintenance of indigenous biodiversity requiring at least no reduction below the current state and requires territorial authorities to identify areas of significant indigenous vegetation and/or significant habitats of indigenous fauna.
The draft NPS-IB has been significantly changed from that developed by the Biodiversity Collaborative Group so as to create ambiguity and shift the balance so as to materially restrict sustainable and responsible electricity development.
In preparing its submission NZWEA sought expert ecological advice. Based on the advice received the Association submitted that the draft NPS-IB represents a significant risk to new renewable electricity generation development and enabling transmission infrastructure.
The Association acknowledged the need the imperative indigenous biodiversity but noted the latest draft would result in most indigenous features being recognised as “significant”. In addition the list of effects of activities which must be avoided in a significant natural area would result in most if not all new wind farms needing to avoid all indigenous features without the ability to consider a mitigation / offset hierarchy.
Renewable electricity development can only occur where there are natural resources that make development commercially viable. It is note that in wind farm consents offsetting has often been used to achieve an enhanced ecological outcome and that under the draft NPS-IB offsetting would not be possible.
The Association’s submission included a number of enhancements to achieve an improved policy balance by reviewing identification criteria can be viewed here: