Regional policy statements and district and regional plans

The RMA provides for councils to create regional policy statements, regional plans, regional coastal plans and district plans. Some councils have combined these into a single document.

These documents set out how the council will manage the environment, including decision-making about activities that could have adverse effects, such as land use, subdivision, noise or discharge of contaminants.

Regional plans, regional coastal plans, and district plans generally include rules about:

  • what people can do as of right (permitted activities)
  • which activities require resource consent
  • how to carry out certain activities.

Councils decide when to make plan changes or variations. Sometimes individuals or businesses can apply to the council for plan change (for example, to facilitate a large scale development).

Understanding RMA planning documents

  • Regional policy statements and regional or district plans contain provisions known as objectives and policies. Plans will also have methods which include rules.
  • Objectives and policies state the council’s goals in dealing with an environmental issue.
  • Rules are requirements in the plan that must be followed (for example, whether standards must be met or requirements for particular activities to apply for a resource consent).

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