Compliance, monitoring and enforcement are activities that ensure communities comply with requirements in the RMA, national standards or regulations, council plans or resource consents.

The three main activities of compliance, monitoring and enforcement are set out below.

Promoting compliance

Compliance is where people are properly following RMA rules and resource consent conditions. If we make good rules, and those rules are followed, the environment is better protected and our communities are cleaner and safer for people, animals and plants.

Councils promote compliance to ensure their communities understand the requirements in the RMA, standards or regulations, and council policies and plans. This may include engagement, education, advertisements, and on-site advice.

A key element in gaining compliance, and therefore better outcomes for our communities, is enabling people to be the ‘eyes and ears’ for councils. By educating the public, and working closely with iwi and community groups, councils can often benefit from a crucial information source to support their compliance, monitoring and enforcement, roles.


Monitoring is when councils check if a situation complies with the rules. This includes site inspections, reviewing consent conditions, plans and reports, responding to complaints, and investigating whether there is a breach that requires further action.

Monitoring ensures councils take appropriate action if needed. It also enables early detection, and prevents damage to the environment.

Most councils take a risk-based approach – prioritising activities with a higher risk of non-compliance, or where non-compliance poses a more severe risk of adverse effects.

For more detail, see Types of monitoring.


Enforcement is the actions councils take when people are not complying with the RMA, a resource consent, a rule in a district or regional plan, or various types of regulation.

Councils can use a range of enforcement tools, tailoring their response to the offence.

For more detail, see Types of enforcement action.

Where you can find out more

For information on how councils carry out compliance, monitoring and enforcement, see Best practice guidelines to compliance, monitoring and enforcement under the Resource Management Act 1991.

It is considered best practice for councils to publish a compliance policy or strategy document. These should help clarify how the council manages its compliance, monitoring and enforcement responsibilities, prioritises compliance work, and decides when to take formal enforcement action.

To find out if your council has a policy or strategy in place, contact it directly.

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