Legal effect of rules

This page reports on instances when local authorities’ delayed or brought forward the date that rules in a proposed plan, change or variation would take legal effect. 

RMA requirements

The Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 introduced sections 86A to G to specify when a rule in a proposed plan, change or variation has legal effect. A rule can now only take legal effect after decisions on submissions have been made. Prior to the 2009 amendments, all rules took legal effect from the date the proposed plan, change or variation was notified.

However, there are a number of exceptions:

  • an Environment Court order gives a rule legal effect on a different (earlier) date
  • the local authority resolves that a rule will not have legal effect until it becomes operative
  • the rule protects or relates to water, air or soil (for soil conservation purposes)
  • the rule protects areas of significant indigenous vegetation, significant habitats of indigenous fauna or historic heritage
  • the rule provides for or relates to aquaculture activities.


  • Of the 357 plan-making processes started, underway or completed:
    • six saw the local authority apply to the Environment Court to enable the rule(s) to take effect upon public notification
    • nine saw the local authority resolve to delay the rule(s) coming into effect until the proposed plan, plan change or variation becomes operative.

Download the complete dataset for plan-making [Excel, 545 KB].

Limitations and local authority practices

  • Due to the differing nature of previous survey data, no meaningful comparisons between current and previous data can be made.
  • One local authority did not provide data on the preparation of policy statements and plans, changes and variations.

See the Act

For more information on the RMA related to this page see the following sections of the Act on the New Zealand Legislation website.