The NPS-HPL was created to protect highly productive land from ‘inappropriate subdivision, use, and development’ and is based on the Land Use Capability (LUC) system, which categorises land into eight classes.
It allows regional and territorial authorities to create their own rules to protect significant food producing areas.
B+LNZ largely welcomes the finalisation of the NPS-HPL which provides mechanisms to protect LUC classes 1-3.
Sheep and beef land often falls into the LUC 4+, or ‘unproductive’ category, but this land is still very important for food production and the community.
We would have therefore liked to have seen the NPS-HPL go further in recognising and protecting versatile lands outside of LUC classes 1-3.
Councils will have a three-year transition phase to fully identify, map, and manage highly productive land, but can identify and protect areas that don’t meet the criteria to be protected as highly productive if they deem it important to maintain the economic, social, cultural or environmental needs of the community.
Farmers don’t need to do anything immediately but should be aware that the NPS-HPL will come into effect in regional and district plans in the next three years, and we encourage them to submit at the regional and district level when it takes place in their area.