Regional Plans

The purpose of a regional plan is to assist a regional council to carry out its functions in order to achieve the sustainable management purpose of the Resource Management Act. 687  A regional council must prepare a regional coastal plan 688  (which applies between mean high water springs and the outer edge of the territorial sea) but other regional plans are optional. 689

Regional plans must give effect to national policy statements, national planning standards and regional policy statements. 690  They must also not be inconsistent with water conservation orders or other regional plans for the region. 691

Regional plans can cover issues within the functions of the regional council, including: 692

  • Soil conservation
  • Water quality and quantity
  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Biodiversity
  • Natural hazards
  • Discharge of contaminants
  • Allocation of natural resources

Regional coastal plans specifically address activities in the coastal marine area. There are some specific requirements for regional coastal plans, including that:

  • They may provide for the imposition of charges for the occupation of the common marine and coastal area. However, charges must not be imposed on a protected customary rights group or customary marine title group exercising a right under Part 3 of the Marine and Coastal (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. Any money received from a coastal occupation charge must be used only for the purpose of promoting the sustainable management of the coastal marine area. 693
  • A Regional Coastal Plan cannot authorise an aquaculture activity in the coastal marine area as a permitted activity. 694
  • Regional coastal plans no longer specify restricted coastal activities. 695

A regional plan is required to state objectives for the region, policies to implement the objectives, and rules (if any) to implement the policies. 696  It may also state: 697

  • The issues the plan seeks to address
  • Methods to be used to implement the policies
  • Principle reasons for adopting the policies and methods
  • The information to be submitted with an application for a resource consent
  • Environmental results anticipated
  • Processes to deal with cross boundary issues
  • Procedures for monitoring

Regional plans usually contain rules governing the use of resources within the region. Such plans may not, however, contain rules which address the effects of the discharge of greenhouse gases on climate change, except to the extent that the use and development of renewable energy enables a reduction in the discharge of greenhouse gases. 698  This is because of a legislative policy of nationalising New Zealand’s approach to the emission of greenhouse gases. 699

Regional plans have a significant effect on the use of natural resources within the region:

  • No person may use land, water, air or the coastal marine area in a manner that contravenes a regional rule without holding a resource consent 700
  • District plans must be consistent with the regional plan for the applicable region 701
  • Consent authorities must have regard to any relevant regional plan when considering an application for a resource consent 702  or water conservation order 703  and a requirement for a designation 704  or heritage order 705 .

For information on the process for the preparation and change of regional plans click here.

  1. Section 63 Resource Management Act 1991

  2. Section 64 Resource Management Act 1991

  3. Section 65 Resource Management Act 1991

  4. Section 67(3) Resource Management Act 1991

  5. Section 67(4) Resource Management Act 1991

  6. Section 30 Resource Management Act 1991

  7. Section 64A Resource Management Act 1991

  8. Section 68A Resource Management Act 1991

  9. Policy 29 New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010

  10. Section 67(1) Resource Management Act 1991

  11. Section 67(2) Resource Management Act 1991

  12. Section 70A Resource Management Act 1991

  13. Genesis Power Ltd v Greenpeace NZ Inc [2008] 1 NZLR 803. See also Re Buller Coal Ltd [2012] NZEnvC 80.

  14. Part 3 Resource Management Act 1991

  15. Section 75(4)(b) Resource Management Act 1991

  16. Section 104(1)(b)(vi) Resource Management Act 1991

  17. Section 207(c) Resource Management Act 1991

  18. Section 171(1)(a) Resource Management Act 1991

  19. Section 191(1)(d) Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 3:32PM on January 4, 2018