Who manages our resources?

The Resource Management Act requires councils to manage natural and physical resources in their area. To do this, they must prepare district or regional plans.

These plans:

  • set the objectives, policies, and rules that encourage or deter activities, depending on whether they might harm the environment
  • specify what types of activities can take place as of right, and those that need a resource consent.

New Zealand has 11 regional councils, 61 city or district councils, and six unitary councils.

A regional plan is created by a regional council and concerns issues that affect the coast, air, water or land.

A district plan is created by a city or district council and concerns the management of land use and subdivision in a city or district.

A unitary plan is created by a unitary council, which has combined city or district council and regional council functions.

Sometimes national environmental standards override the plan rules, to provide a consistent set of rules across all councils. See Understanding national direction.

Who manages resource consents?

Councils usually manage applications for resource consent. In this role they are called consent authorities.

When deciding whether to grant a consent, the council considers several factors, including the effects of your proposal on the environment, and the council’s RMA plan.

The rules on resource management differ between districts and regions. It’s best not to assume that because you didn’t need a consent in one town, you won’t need it in another. There are also likely to be differences within a district, city or region.

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