Stephanie de Groot

Senior Associate - Environment and Planning

Stephanie is a specialist environmental lawyer. She provides advice on all aspects of environmental and resource management law to private and public sector clients.

Stephanie has a wealth of experience advising on a broad range of environmental issues.  This includes planning, consenting, and designation issues under the Resource Management Act 1991, sustainability and regulatory compliance issues, the implications of environmental policy developments, and environmental due diligence.

She has advised some of New Zealand’s most well-regarded companies and public bodies.  Her clients include property developers, infrastructure providers, government departments and ministerial offices, and businesses operating in the commercial, industrial, energy, aquaculture, and forestry sectors.

Stephanie has a strong commercial acumen and regularly undertakes environmental due diligence for large commercial transactions.  Her expertise in this area includes advising on Overseas Investment Act implications, contaminated land liability, New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) interests, and drafting environmental warranties and indemnities.

In line with the Climate Change Commission’s recent call to action, Stephanie is focused on helping organisations understand and implement evolving climate change regulation and policy.  She provides practical and clear advice on the operation of the ETS and the implications for business associated with a changing climate.  She is sought after for her advice on this topic and regularly advises, writes, and presents to different audiences.

A specialist in environmental dispute resolution, Stephanie regularly advocates for clients in hearings before councils, the District Court, the Environment Court, and the High Court.  She also assists with alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation.

Clients seek Stephanie’s trusted advice and guidance in relation to regulatory compliance issues.  She is often called on to guide clients through criminal prosecutions under environmental legislation and assist them with their engagement with affected stakeholders.

Beyond her experience and technical skills, clients appreciate Stephanie’s down-to-earth approach, strategic advice, and her commitment to delivering excellent results.  Her expertise is grounded in science which enables her to provide technically excellent and insightful advice.  She has a science degree, with a major in natural geography and specialisation in environmental science.  Prior to practising law, she worked in the regulatory services department of Auckland Regional Council (now Auckland Council).

In recognition of her legal expertise, Stephanie received an excellence award in the Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year category at the 2021 New Zealand Law Awards. She has recently been named by NZ Lawyer on its 2022 Rising Stars list.

Stephanie is a sustainability leader within the firm and contributes to several innovative sustainability forums and projects.  She sits on the SustainME committee, that drives sustainability awareness and initiatives to assist in meeting the Firm’s sustainability goals for the natural environment and regularly contributes to the Firm’s regular Sustainable Impact publication.

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Professional background

Recent work

Trusted advisor to Z Energy

Advising Z Energy on its environmental obligations and commitments in relation to its ongoing operations and new developments.  Includes advice on Z’s approach to resource consenting, contaminated land and hazardous substances management, and food and water safety.

Major resource management reforms for New Zealand Government

Advising the New Zealand Government on its comprehensive and transformational reform of the country’s resource management system. The work is planned over several years covering the policy development, drafting, and select committee stages of the various Bills.

Planning and consenting advice for Brightside hospital

Providing specialist planning and consenting advice to Southern Cross on its request for a private plan change to the Auckland Unitary Plan (PPC21), and a concurrent resource consent application, to enable the expansion of its existing Brightside Hospital.

Development agreement for dairy processing company

Assisting a dairy processing company in the establishment of a new, large-scale nutritional powder manufacturing facility. The facility required significant infrastructure connections, including to a district council’s freshwater, wastewater, and roading networks.

Climate Change Advice

Advising a large financial institution on its approach and the content of a new Sustainability Policy and the risks associated with various aspects of the policy.

Advising a New Zealand Crown entity on a new climate change policy framework that sets targets to reduce corporate emissions and decarbonise their investment equities portfolio.

CH4 Global

Assisting CH4 to obtain its first resource consent to trial the commercial marine farming of Asparagopsis armarta – a native and naturally abundant seaweed that has the potential to reduce methane emissions from ruminant animals.

Navigating criminal charges

Advising several different organisations facing criminal charges under environmental legislation in relation to unintentional discharges of contaminants.  We assisted these organisations through all stages of this difficult process including helping them to manage engagement with key stakeholders.

Admitted

  • 2011, New Zealand

Qualifications

  • LLB, BSc, University of Auckland

Affiliations

  • Member, Resource Management Law Association (RMLA)

Specialisations

  • Aquaculture
  • Climate change
  • Emissions Trading Scheme
  • Energy and Resources
  • Environment
  • Forestry
  • Infrastructure
  • Local Government
  • Planning
  • Public Law
  • Resource Management
  • Sustainability

Awards

  • Named as a Rising Star for 2022, NZ Lawyer
  • Excellence Awardee, New Zealand Law Awards Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year, 2021
  • Member of MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ internationally recognised Tier 1 Environment and Planning team, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific