Regional Policy Statements

In the freshwater context an integrated catchment management approach should be adopted, which recognises that changes to land or water in one part of the catchment are likely to result in impacts in other parts and includes management of the land, freshwater bodies and the receiving marine environment as an integrated ecological system.

A key purpose of regional policy statements is to achieve integrated management of the natural and physical resources of the region. Regional policy statements are therefore key documents in providing a regional framework to drive effective freshwater management at the catchment level.

This is recognised in the NPSFM which requires every regional council to make or change regional policy statements to provide for the integrated management of the effects of the use and development of land on freshwater. 

In respect of freshwater management, regional policy statements should include: 2044

  • A statement of the significant freshwater management issues in the region
  • A statement of the freshwater issues of significance to iwi
  • Identification of the objectives sought to be achieved for freshwater management (quantified where possible)
  • Policies to be applied to water management
  • Policies to be applied to land use and development
  • A description of the methods to be used to implement the policies
  • The environmental results for freshwater bodies which are anticipated
  • A freshwater monitoring programme

This would involve identifying the key natural and physical freshwater resources in the region. The regional policy statement should also identify the issues for freshwater management in some detail and describe in practical terms how the issues will be addressed. This could include information about what water bodies are under stress, what are the key causes of this stress, what will be done to reduce such pressures and what specific outcomes are to be achieved and by when. Identification of the key linkages between the land, freshwater bodies and the marine area in each catchment is also important, so that management responses in upper catchment areas are driven by the carrying capacity of fresh and marine water bodies downstream.

The policy framework provided by the regional policy statement needs to be underpinned by the identification of the values attached to fresh water bodies within the region. These may include a wide range of environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual matters which are specific for each water body and are not limited to the values contained in the National Objectives Framework.

Regional policy statements should also address section 6 matters of national significance which are of relevance to freshwater bodies within the region. This includes identifying freshwater bodies with high natural character, those which are outstanding natural features in their own right, those which are part of outstanding natural landscapes, those which provide significant habitats for indigenous fauna and those which have historic and cultural significance.This is supported by regional council’s obligation to maintain indigenous biodiversity, which justifies the protection of waterbodies for their biodiversity values. 

Well drafted objectives will be ‘specific, quantitative and measurable descriptions of environmental state or condition.’

For more information see Strengthening Second Generation Regional Policy Statements.

  1. Section 62 Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 1:21PM on November 17, 2017