More about RMA Plans
The Resource Management Act 1991
Part 2 of the RMA (sections 5 to 8) sets out the Act’s purpose and principles. The purpose of the RMA is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources (a definition of sustainable management is provided). The principles of the Act requires that the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are taken into account by decision makers, and that a range of matters of national importance are recognised and provided for, and other matters are given particular regard to.
Plans and policies developed under the RMA are structured hierarchically, essentially meaning lower order plans must give effect to higher order plans. At the highest level sits the RMA, and in particular Part 2, which sets out the Act’s purpose and principles. Next are planning instruments developed at the national level, for example the National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards and the NZ Coastal Policy Statement. At the next level sits policy and plans developed by regional councils, followed by those produced by ‘territorial authorities’ (district or city councils). Because of the hierarchical nature of RMA plans, a district plan must give effect to a regional policy statement, which in turn may not be out of step with the NZ Coastal Policy Statement, or Part 2 of the RMA.
Nelson is one of a handful of unitary councils, meaning it has the functions of both regional and territorial authorities.
Plan development process
The process for developing (or changing) a plan is set out in the First Schedule of the RMA. Once publicly notified, there are two rounds of submissions (the second round is called ‘further submissions’), hearings and the opportunity for submitters to appeal the ensuing decision to the Environment Court. Once all matters are resolved council makes a plan ‘operative’ (although provisions within a plan can start to take effect as early as public notification).