Regional Policy Statements

Regional councils are obliged to prepare a regional policy statement (often referred to as an RPS). RPSs provide an overview of the resource management issues of the region and policies and methods to achieve integrated management of the natural and physical resources of the region. 638

A regional policy statement is required to state: 639

  • Significant resource management issues for the region
  • Resource management issues of significance to iwi authorities
  • Objectives sought to be achieved
  • Policies in regards to significant issues and objectives
  • Methods (excluding rules) to be used to implement the policies
  • Principle reasons for adopting the objectives, policies and methods
  • Environmental results anticipated
  • Processes to deal with cross boundary issues
  • The local authority responsible for specifying objectives, policies and methods for land use control in respect of natural hazards, hazardous substances and indigenous biological diversity
  • Procedures for monitoring

Regional councils must have regard to the following when preparing or changing a regional policy statement: 5138

  • Any emissions reduction plan made under the Climate Change Response Act
  • Any national adaptation plan made under the Climate Change Response Act
  • Any management plans and strategies prepared under other Acts (like the Conservation Act)
  • Entries on the Heritage List/ Rārangi Kōrero
  • Regulations made under the Fisheries Act and the EEZ Act
  • Policy statements and plans of adjacent regional councils
  • Relevant plan documents recognized by an iwi group
  • Planning documents prepared by a customary marine title group, the matters in which must be recognised and provided for.

Regional councils must not have regard to trade competition.

A regional policy statement can contain objectives, policies and methods but cannot contain rules. That being said the Court of Appeal has confirmed that a regional policy statement can include a course of action which could be broad or narrow and flexible or inflexible as the circumstances warrant. For example a regional policy statement may include something highly specific such as the identification of a rural-urban boundary which effectively operates as a rule in the ordinary sense of that term but does not fall within the statutory definition of a rule under the RMA. Provisions of this nature are not considered to be rules because they are not directly binding on individual citizens, rather they derive their impact from the requirement that regional and district plans must give effect to regional policy statements. 640

Regional policy statements enable regional councils to provide broad direction and a framework for resource management within their regions as regional and district plans must give effect to them. 641  Regional statements must give effect to national policy statements (including the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement) and national planning standards and be consistent with water conservation orders. 642

Regional and district plans must “give effect to” regional policy statements. The phrase “give effect to” means “implement”. It is a strong directive that creates a firm obligation on the part of those subject to it. 643  Further discussion of this requirement can be found in the section on National Policy Statements.

A regional policy statement can have a significant impact on specific resource management decisions within the region. Consent authorities must have regard to any relevant regional policy statement (both operative and proposed) when considering an application for a resource consent 644  or water conservation order 645  and a requirement for a designation 646  or heritage order 647 .

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

For more information about best practice regional policy statements see Peart & Reaburn, 2011Strengthening Second Generation Regional Policy Statements. Environmental Defence Society Inc.

  1. Section 59 Resource Management Act 1991

  2. Section 62 Resource Management Act 1991

  3. Auckland Regional Council v North Shore City Council [1995] 3 NZLR 18

  4. Section 62(3) Resource Management Act 1991

  5. Sections 67(3) and 75(3) Resource Management Act 1991

  6. Environmental Defence Society Inc v The New Zealand King Salmon Company Ltd [2014] NZKS 38 at [77]. See also Clevedon Cares Inc v Manukau City Council [2010] NZEnvC 211

  7. Section 104(1)(b)(v) Resource Management Act 1991

  8. Section 207(c) Resource Management Act 1991

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

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

  11. Section 61 Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 2:49PM on August 20, 2021