Environment, Planning and Natural Resources

Home Expertise Environment, Planning and Natural Resources

Multi-disciplinary expertise for complex legal questions

New Zealand is growing at a rapid rate, particularly in Auckland and our other larger urban centres where demand for housing, infrastructure and services continues to surge. In the regions, two of the country’s biggest industries – agriculture and tourism – face challenges to their use of the country's finite natural resources. To add to all of this is the threat of climate change, a growing public and corporate consciousness of the many environmental concerns we now face, and significant regulatory reform.

We help our clients meet these challenges and seize the opportunities by helping them to understand the changing legal, regulatory and political frameworks around urban planning, infrastructure development and environmental issues like freshwater quality and climate change. Our multi-disciplinary team has the ability and the depth to take on the big projects, and the complex legal questions. We're known for the way we collaboratively partner with our clients, our industry knowledge, commercial nous and our understanding of our clients' broader strategic objectives. 


Consenting, Planning and Development 

Our multi-disciplinary team assists clients undertaking major commercial, infrastructure and industrial developments to get the approvals they need. Our experience includes advising:
  • KiwiRail on developing a new intermodal freight hub near Palmerston North. 
  • Stevenson Group and Goodman Properties on the Drury South Precinct development (major greenfield development).
  • Fonterra Co-operative Group in relation to its opposition to the application to establish a residential development at Te Rapa North in close proximity to Fonterra's largest manufacturing facility.
  • Woolworths New Zealand on a comprehensive commercial and residential development.
  • Summerset Group in relation to consenting of developments across New Zealand.
  • SkyCity in obtaining consent for New Zealand International Convention Centre.
  • Auckland International Airport on environmental issues arising from its proposed second runway and associated facilities, and on the successful re-zoning of rural land.

RMA Reform

We advise a wide variety of clients on regulatory and legislative reform, including on the upcoming repeal and replacement of the Resource Management Act 1991 as well as in assisting clients with the opportunities afforded by the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020.


Often a contentious regulatory topic and the subject of significant proposed regulatory reform, our team guides our clients through the legal, regulatory and political challenges of New Zealand's changing water landscape. Our recent experience includes advising: 
  • Watercare in obtaining all necessary approvals for the $800m Central Interceptor project.
  • Trustpower on the Lake Coleridge Project, including securing a variation to the Rakaia River National Water Conservation Order, and in securing the resource consents for the Wairau Hydroelectric Power Scheme.
  • Watercare on the procurement and contracting of network maintenance on its water and wastewater pipes (more then 17,000 kilometres of pipes). 
  • Fonterra on planning issues, including on changes to water quality and nutrient management policy documents, and planning rules in relation to Government policy reform.

Climate Change  

From the enactment of the Zero Carbon Act, to reform of the resource management framework, to policy initiatives arising from the Climate Change Commission's work, the New Zealand Government has made addressing climate change a clear priority. We expect action on climate change to cut across all industries and sectors, with a greater degree of compliance required, as well as new opportunities to capitalise on. Find out more about our Climate Change expertise here.

Energy and Renewables

Before committing to energy projects, organisations require a deep understanding of the regulatory environment they are entering. We work for industry leaders in the fields of oil and gas and electricity generation and are regularly involved in significant energy transactions. Read more about our Energy and Renewables expertise here.

Coastal Development

Our team is a long-standing leader in coastal development, including coastal infrastructure, regeneration projects, aquaculture, marinas and residential developments. Our experience includes advising:

  • Ports of Auckland on its application for the resource consents for its channel deepening and disposal project.
  • Ports of Auckland and Auckland International Airport on a range of development projects and on coastal planning documents, including the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.
  • Waterfront Auckland (now Panuku Development Auckland) on rezoning the former industrial land on Auckland's waterfront to enable urban regeneration, and obtaining consent for a number of civic projects including the Marine Event Centre, the lifting bridge connecting to the CBD, and public space upgrades.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

We provided advice to a range of clients during the Government's development of the EEZ legislation and were successful in obtaining key amendments during the legislative process. Since the legislation came into force, we have continued to advise clients on its application, including in relation to several significant marine mining proposals that have sought consent. 

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