South Waikato District Plan

7 Energy, Infrastructure and Transport 

7.1- ENGY  Energy


Physical resources include electricity and gas systems and works associated with existing hydro-electric power generation and new renewable electricity generation activities. The existing hydroelectric power generation sites in the District are covered separately by the Special Purpose Zone-Electricity Generation.

The District contains utilities that play a key role in New Zealand’s economy and prosperity, particularly with regard to electricity production and transmission. At the same time these networks underpin the district’s future. Since utility corridors traverse a number of different zones, the plan’s approach is to make them permitted activities throughout the District, subject to consistent standards.

It is recognised that utilities can have significant adverse effects, for example upon important landscapes and significant natural values. In such circumstances, a balance needs to be struck between competing issues associated with natural and physical resource use. Such a balance must be achieved on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the costs, benefits and effects of the particular proposal.

The National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission and the Resource Management National Environmental Standards for Electricity Transmission Regulations 2009 recognise that the nationwide distribution of electricity is a matter of national significance under the Act. The provisions set a framework for the effective operation, maintenance, upgrading and development of the National Grid network and manage activity within existing transmission corridors to safeguard the security of the electricity transmission network and maintain public safety.

The NES for Electricity Transmission Activities contains a separate code of rules for the operation, maintenance, upgrading, relocation or removal of an existing transmission line that is part of the national grid. Except as provided for by the regulation, no rules in this plan apply to such activities.

Renewable electricity generation activities require a location at or near the renewable energy resource from which they generate. This inevitably means such activities require a rural location. The district contains several such facilities, and in accordance with the national significance afforded renewable electricity generation facilities in meeting future energy demand, it is likely additional facilities will need to be located in rural areas in the future. (from rural)

Inappropriate land-uses and activities (especially sensitive activities) in close proximity to the Electricity Transmission Network can compromise the operation, maintenance and upgrading and development of the electricity transmission network. In this regard, recognising the Electricity Transmission Network and providing an appropriate buffer is a matter of national importance for Council to consider.



To ensure that new development in the District has regard to improving energy efficiency and to enable production of energy from renewable sources, provided their development promotes the sustainable management of the district’s natural and physical resources.


To put in place adaptation and response mechanisms to manage the challenges of, and respond to the opportunities afforded by, future climate change.


To ensure that the development, operation, maintenance, repair and upgrading of the components that comprise the Waikato hydro scheme, are recognised and provided for.


To provide for new network utility and infrastructure developments, that avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on existing neighbouring land-uses and amenity values, while recognising that the location of these activities is often fixed and dependent upon the location of the resources.


To recognise and provide for the exploration, development and use of geothermal, wind and hydro resources, for the purpose of renewable electricity generation in a manner that avoids, remedies or mitigates adverse effects on the environment and also takes into account cultural impacts.


To recognise and provide for the national, regional and local benefits of a sustainable, secure and efficient electricity transmission and distribution network, and renewable electricity generation activities.



Promote energy efficiency and the production of renewable energy through micro-generation at a household and community scale.


Encourage adaptability of the District’s productive base to climate change, including provision for new crops (with associated processing facilities) that may become viable in the future.


Safeguard the operational performance, maintenance and minor upgrade of electricity transmission, sub- transmission and distribution lines in urban areas by managing the adverse effects of neighbouring activities.


Provide for generation of electricity at the community and household scale, due to its renewability, the energy efficiency benefits involved, and because potential adverse effects can be managed effectively while recognising the relationship iwi have with the environment.


Enable the efficient operation, maintenance, and upgrading of the electricity transmission and distribution networks and the existing renewable electricity generating infrastructure and related activities in a manner that avoids, remedies or mitigates additional adverse effects on the environment.


Enable the exploration, development, construction and operation of new renewable energy sources and generation activities (including ancillary activities) in a manner that avoids, remedies, or mitigates adverse effects on the environment.


Recognise and have regard to:

(a) The maintenance and protection of existing renewable electricity generation activities

(b) The practical, logistical or technical constraints associated with the location, logistics and operation of new and existing renewable electricity generation activities

(c) The opportunity for environmental offsetting and compensation measures to be considered in instances where adverse environmental effects from new renewable  electricity generation activities cannot be avoided, remedied or mitigated.

(d) Adaptive management measures.


Provide for new energy and infrastructure developments within the rural area and where potential adverse effects on rural land-uses, and landscape, ecological, cultural and heritage values are avoided, remedied or mitigated.


Avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects of activities on the existing character and amenity of the surrounding rural area and avoid those activities that would cause reverse sensitivity concerns for established rural-based activities (including existing network utilities and infrastructure).


Avoid establishing activities that could limit the legitimate/authorised operation of existing rural-based activities such as network utilities and infrastructure.


Safeguard the operational performance, maintenance and minor upgrade of the National Grid and other network utilities and infrastructure in the rural area by managing the adverse effects of neighbouring.


Ensure that new subdivision land-uses and development in close proximity to electricity generation core sites and network utilities and infrastructure are compatible with the use and operation of such sites by specifying appropriate environmental performance standards.


Enable infrastructure development where the associated effects are avoided, remedied or mitigated and the functional requirements of the developer and operator of the network utilities and infrastructure are considered.


Recognise existing electricity lines within outstanding natural features and landscapes and significant natural areas, and significant amenity landscapes, and provide for their operational, maintenance and upgrading requirements.


Manage infrastructure development to ensure it does not adversely affect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River.



The provisions of any NES prevail over the requirements of this Chapter and any other applicable section of the district plan unless the NES expressly allows a requirement within the plan to do so.

ENGY-R2 PER activities within all zones

Subject to

(1) The operation, maintenance, minor upgrading or repair of existing, lawfully established network utilities and infrastructure for electricity generation,except within the SPZ-ELG

ENGY-R5 and R6 relevant standards


(2) Pipe renewals, and any ongoing maintenance or repair of existing, lawfully established network utilities and infrastructure for electricity generation or gas, except within the SPZ-ELG

(3) Transformers and lines and associated equipment for conveying electricity up to and including 110kv

(4) Underground pipes, cables and lines, and necessary incidental equipment including pump stations

(5) Upgrading of transformers and lines for conveying electricity of over 110kv

(6) Domestic scale renewable energy devices

(a) Shall not involve water storage (weirs, dams, tanks etc)

(b) Once the water is passed through the turbine, it shall be returned to the same body of water

(c) Any intake structure shall be appropriately designed to prevent any aquatic fauna from entering the device

(d) Devices shall not prevent fish passage along the river or stream, and fish ladders or other passages shall be constructed where necessary

(e) ENGY-R5 and R6 relevant standards

(7) Community scale renewable energy development except for hydro-electric generation


(a) Community scale renewable energy developments shall not be located within an Outstanding Natural Landscape or Feature identified on the planning maps, and all devices and supporting structures attached to the land shall cover a total area of no more than 300m2 (excluding any supporting wires) within the total energy development project area

(b) ENGY-R5 and R6 relevant standards

ENGY- R3-RDIS activities

Subject to

(1) Any PER activity specified above which does not comply with any of the relevant standards in ENGY-R5

Matters of discretion

(a) AA-R3(1) and (2)

(b) ENGY-R5 and R6 as a guideline

(2) Community scale renewable energy development using hydro-electric generation.

Matters of discretion

(a) The effect on natural character and indigenous biodiversity

(b) The effects on the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River catchment, including the objectives of the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River

(c) The effects on any outstanding natural landscape, outstanding natural feature, or significant amenity landscape identified in SCHED4-NFL

(d) The effects on public access to or along the Waikato River or any of the other waterways identified in PA-R2(1)

(e) Any cultural impacts including actual or potential adverse effects on the intrinsic values or mauri of the waterway, wāhi tapu or other sites of significance to Māori

(f) Any cumulative effects of renewable energy development using hydro-electric generation.

(g) ENGY-R5 and R6 as a guideline

ENGY- R4- DIS activities within all zones

Subject to

(1) Network utilities and infrastructure, for electricity generation and gas except for existing hydroelectric power generating infrastructure and associated activities within the SPZ-ELG not otherwise specified as PER, CON or RDIS activities

Matters of discretion

(a) AA-R4

(b) ENGY-R5 and R6 relevant standards


Refer to SPZ-ELG for Hydroelectric power generating infrastructure and associated activities.

ENGY-R5 Standards in all Zones

(a) The height requirements in INF-R5(1) and INF-R5(2) shall not apply to antennas, domestic scale renewable energy devices, earthpeaks or lightning conductors which do not exceed a height of 3m above the height of the building, pole, tower or the mast upon which they are sited

(b) Where structures are located underground, the ground surface and any vegetation disturbed shall be reinstated or replaced as soon as possible

ENGY-R6- Other Plan Matters

All activities shall comply with the relevant standards as identified below:

(1) Chapter 6 Strategic Matters

(2) Section 7.2 Infrastructure, 7.3 Transportation

(3) Section 8.1 Contaminated Land, 8.2 Hazardous Substances, 8.3 Natural Hazards

(4) Section 9.1 Historic Heritage, 9.2 Sites and Areas of Significance to Māori

(5) 10.1 Ecosystems and Indigenous Biodiversity, 10.2 Natural Character, 10.3 Natural Features and Landscapes, 10.4 Public Access

(6) Chapter 11 Subdivision.       

(7) Section 12.1 General District-Wide Matters

(8) Section 12.2 Activities on the Surface of Water, 12.3 Air Emissions, 12.4 Earthworks, 12.5 Financial Contribution, 12.6 Light,12.7 Noise, 12.8 Signs, 12.9 Temporary Activities

(9) Part 3- Any relevant zone or overlay

ENGY- Other Methods


Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Electricity Transmission Activities) Regulations 2009.


New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances 2001


NES on Electricity Transmission Activities 2010


Advocacy and education on energy efficient building methods, and the use of micro-generation


Local Action Plan on Climate Change, and Council’s Energy Policy


Support workshops and education programmes with key stakeholder groups to progressively encourage land management and behavioural changes, to complement industry-led programmes and initiatives


Standards under Regional Technical Infrastructure Specifications that promote low-impact environmental design solutions and consider climate change implications for stormwater networks.

ENGY-Principal Reasons


Functional and efficient infrastructure cannot be achieved only through RMA methods and needs to be furthered through a variety of works undertaken by Council and other utility providers. The importance to the local and national economy of infrastructure, means that if their maintenance and upgrading is not safeguarded under the district plan, there could be significant community impacts. Likewise, the district needs to play its part in the national (and international) imperative to improve energy efficiency, generate more energy from renewable sources and respond to future climate change.