Environment, planning and resource management

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Early environment, planning and resource management advice will enable and enhance your project. We’ll help you plan for success.

The legal, regulatory and political landscape associated with New Zealand’s environment and planning system is changing. Businesses are under increasing pressure to navigate these changes to ensure their organisations are proactive, resilient, compliant, and best able to manage and adapt to environmental and social challenges. Our environment team, ranked Tier 1 by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, is well-equipped to assist you to navigate the resource management system. We advise both public and private sector entities on their environmental obligations and opportunities across retail, commercial, industrial, infrastructure, aquaculture, forestry, agriculture, energy, and other sectors. As trusted advisers to the Government on its reform of the resource management system, our knowledge of environment, planning, and resource management law is second to none.

Our breadth of experience means we can work with you across the entire spectrum of environmental and planning issues, providing you with the social and environmental licence to operate. Some of our environmental lawyers have worked in the industry and have backgrounds in science so we can give you first-hand advice on both the commercial and technical challenges. Also, we regularly appear before local authorities and the Environment Court so we can offer you comprehensive practical advice before you start any project.

Our multi-disciplinary team advises clients with strategic planning concerns impacting their industries, commercial developments as well as Māori interests. We also provide realistic and pragmatic response strategies to minimise the risks associated with environment and planning litigation, investigations and prosecutions.

Our expertise includes:
  • The application of district and regional plans and national direction under the Resource Management Act
  • Submissions on plan changes and the preparation and processing of private plan change requests
  • Obtaining all types of consents, permits and licences to operate, including resource consents and alcohol licences
  • Environmental liability issues such as remediation of contaminated land
  • All aspects of compliance, monitoring and enforcement of environmental law and regulation, including criminal prosecutions
  • Environmental litigation and advocacy 
  • Environmental due diligence for mergers and acquisitions and when buying or selling land 
  • Negotiating development agreements and advising on development contributions
  • Development opportunities associated with the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act
  • Acquisition and compensation claims under the Public Works Act 1981
  • Environmental policy development and advice, including in relation to climate change
  • Project management
  • The operation of the New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme
  • Risks and opportunities associated with climate change  and approaches to climate related disclosures (CRD)
  • Sustainability and ESG  policies and initiatives, including stakeholder engagement, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Before you start your next project, talk to our environmental experts. We will make sure you get input at the planning stage and any necessary approvals to make your project a reality.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts are experts in New Zealand environmental law. They are responsive and work collaboratively with clients. They are excellent value for money when compared to other top-tier firms. Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022


Recent highlights
Advising on major resource management reforms for New Zealand Government

Acting as Ministry for the Environment’s primary legal advisor on the Government’s comprehensive and transformational reform of the entire resource management system, which includes the repeal of the Resource Management Act 1991.  This work requires ‘system thinking’ to see connections and creation of innovative new mechanisms. Our focus is on bringing practical, real-world experience to the creation of this new system of environmental laws.

Stride Property  Group takes a proactive approach to planning

The Stride Property Group seeks to proactively ensure that land is appropriately zoned for future development.

We assist to provide input into planning processes across the country so Stride can provide developments that enhance the communities in which they are located.  

Kiwi Property has its say on New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan

Kiwi Property Limited is a sustainability leader in the building sector, and we assisted it to review Aotearoa’s first Emissions Reduction Plan and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s Building for Climate Change Framework, and provide feedback. Kiwi Property’s feedback drew from its experience in constructing sustainable buildings, energy ratings and barriers to reducing emissions in new builds and retrofits, such as construction waste. 

Trusted adviser to Z Energy

Advising Z Energy on a range of environmental and consenting matters across its portfolio including in relation to site development and redevelopment, contaminated land and hazardous substances management, and food and water safety. A recent highlight was assisting Z Energy to obtain resource consent for its new Rolleston service station.

Assisting Southern Cross Healthcare to expand its hospitals

Southern Cross needs to expand its private hospital facilities around the country to meet the needs of an aging and growing population. We are assisting Southern Cross to ensure that hospital use is recognised and supported at a national and local level to help facilitate the development and expansion of this significant social infrastructure.  

Metlifecare purchases existing villages from another provider

A major project for Metlifecare in 2021 was the acquisition of six retirement villages across the country from The Selwyn Foundation. A key part of the acquisition strategy for Metlifecare was the ability to redevelop and intensify the sites. We provided planning and environmental due diligence advice on the portfolio, worked with external consultants, and drafted clauses for the sale and purchase agreement to ensure a smooth transition of village operation to Metlifecare.  

We also advise Metlifecare on their wider portfolio and development strategy, and regularly undertake due diligence for greenfield sites, make submissions on district plan reviews around New Zealand to provide appropriate provisions for retirement village development, and seek changes to development contribution policies. 

Navigating criminal charges under environmental legislation

Advising several different organisations facing criminal charges under environmental legislation in relation to discharges of contaminants to the environment.  We assisted these organisations to navigate enforcement action taken by regulators including providing procedural and strategic advice, managing engagement with key stakeholders, and advocating for them in relation to sentencing.

Related expertise

Our lawyers provide clients with clear, strategic and commercial solutions that create lasting impacts to their business