November 25, 2020

Team Profile:
Permitting of Geothermal Resources in New Zealand

Deborah Kissick

photo credit:
Traverse Environmental Ltd

Have you wondered what you need to consider when seeking approval for a New Zealand- based geothermal development?

We’ve been working on summarising the current regulatory and planning frameworks for conventional geothermal resources (~3.5 km, <350°C), with the aim of providing the applicable information into a digestible format.

This week, we are presenting a summary of this work as a conference paper and in poster format at the New Zealand Geothermal workshop, in Bay of Islands,Northland.

Application’s to use and develop geothermal resources must navigate a complex framework of interconnected legislation through policy documents and plans at the national, regional and district levels, as illustrated on the diagram below.

New Zealand's Environmental Statutory Framework. If you'd like a quick reference copy of this - download it here.

In New Zealand, geothermal resources are treated as water resources, and their use is predominantly governed by broad environmental resource management legislation. The use and development of geothermal resources are authorised through Resource Consents under the Resource Management Act (RMA) by regional and district councils.  

In addition to theRMA, other relevant environmental legislation to consider includes theConservation Act (1987), Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act (2011),and Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environment Effects) Act(2012).There is legislation related to climate, energy and minerals that are also potentially relevant to the use of geothermal resources.

This is all laid out in our conference paper and poster, and we are working on a more comprehensive summary report, in which we hope to include cases studies of large-scale geothermal consent applications. You can also download the above image of New Zealand's Environmental Statutory Framework here.

This work is being undertaken for the GNG programme and will inform analysis on the suitability of New Zealand’s existing planning framework for managing the potential future use of supercritical geothermal resources. The use of hotter, deeper supercritical needs an optimal planning framework to enable this development, while achieving sustainable resource management requirements.

EDITED: you can now download the full report here.

read more


Governance & Regulation


nz geothermal workshop (NZGW)
conference presentation

Further Updates