View all publications

Appendix 2: Glossary

Disclaimer: These definitions provide a basic understanding of key concepts used in this document. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as being the interpretation the Courts will apply in any given case.

Words in italics indicate that a separate glossary definition is provided for that word or phrase.

The natural or physical qualities and characteristics of an area or place that make it pleasant and attractive. Amenity values also include qualities or characteristics that help people appreciate the cultural value or significance of an area, or its attractiveness and usefulness for recreation.

Amenity values  
Board of inquiry A panel of experts, normally chaired by a current or retired judge, appointed by the Minister for the Environment to consider and make decisions on resource consent, plan change, or notice of requirement applications concerning projects or matters of national significance.
Call in The process in which the Minister for the Environment determines if a matter or proposal is of national significance and the body which should make a decision on it.
Compulsory acquisition A process under the Public Works Act 1981 for acquiring land for a government or public work when the landowner is not willing to sell. The landowner is entitled to compensation based on the current fair market value of the land, and may be eligible for compensation to cover moving costs, mortgage repayments and loss of business.
Consent authority A regional council, territorial authority, unitary authority, or other bodies who make decisions on resource consent applications.
Controlled activity Activities that require a resource consent but where consent cannot (generally) be declined by the consent authority. A plan sets out a range of matters over which ‘control’ is retained and conditions can only be imposed for those matters.
Design and build

An approach to delivering a project where both designing and building the project are combined into a single contract, as opposed to having separate tender and contracts processes for design and construction.
Designation A provision in a district plan that signals the intent and ability of a requiring authority to use land for a particular work or project whether the district plan normally permits that use or not. It also prevents others from doing anything in relation to the land that would prevent or hinder the work. How designations work is more fully explained in Appendix 4.
District plan A plan prepared by a territorial authority or unitary authority to help manage the environmental effects of the use, subdivision and development of land. Rules in district plans determine whether a resource consent is required.
Economic infrastructure Facilities and assets that enable or improve economic and social activity (both business and domestic) and productivity. Examples include telecommunication networks, transport and freight networks, financial institutions and energy supply systems.
Environment Court A specialist court, similar in status to the District Court, that decides appeals against decisions on resource consents, plans and plan changes, designations, and a range of other matters related to the environment.
Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) A government agency that will receive and administer applications for resource consents, plan changes, and notices of requirement related to projects of national significance. The EPA will not make final decisions on applications, but provides support services to the board of inquiry or the Environment Court who do. It is expected to be operating by 1 July 2011.
Fair market value The price that would have been agreed on had there been a willing buyer and a willing seller for land (or some other product or service).
Government Policy Statement on Transport (GPS) A policy document that sets out the Government’s priorities for expenditure for transport over the next 10 years, including how activities such as road safety, state highways, local roading and public transport are to be funded.
Grandfathering Use of a legal clause that allows pre-existing powers or processes to continue until they naturally expire, despite a law change that prevents further new uses of that power or process.
Incompatible development Developments that should not be sited together because the effects of one activity are not appropriate in the context of the other. For example, the location of an outdoor jet engine testing facility next to a hospital.
Infrastructure See definitions for economicinfrastructure and socialinfrastructure.
Local authority A term used to refer to all types of councils (regional, city and district).
Macroeconomic Economic factors and processes at a large or general scale.
National environmental standard (NES) A type of environmental regulation that is set by the Government and which everyone must comply with. National environmental standards operate a bit like rules that prohibit or allow activities, or require a person to obtain a resource consent. A NES may set limits on a particular activity (for example, the discharge of particles into air) or specify that a particular method be used (for example, to measure water flows).
National infrastructure plan (NIP) A plan that outlines the Government’s infrastructure priorities and planned investment in infrastructure, and which provides an overview of current public and private infrastructure assets, operations and proposals. The first edition was released by Treasury in early 2010.
National policy statement (NPS) A form of mandatory guideline that is produced by the Government, and that all local authorities must follow when making decisions under the RMA. Local authorities must amend their plans so the provisions contained in them implement the direction contained in the NPS.
National significance Something is deemed to be nationally significant under the RMA if the Minister of the Environment decides it to be so. The Minister makes the decision having regard to a range of factors including: whether the matter has aroused widespread public concern; impacts on international obligations; whether significant and irreversible adverse effects on the environment will occur; impact in regard to Treaty of Waitangi obligations; and whether it assists the Crown (Government) in fulfilling its public health, welfare, security or safety obligations and functions.
Natural and physical resources Land, water, air, soil, minerals, energy, all forms of plants and animals (whether native to New Zealand or not) and structures (for example, buildings and physical infrastructure).
Non-notified application An application for a resource consent where effects are considered to be minor and no person is considered to be adversely affected (or those persons have provided their written permission to the application).
Notice of requirement A formal request to a territorial authority or unitary authority by a requiring authority that a designation be included in the council’s district plan so that a particular use can be made of the land regardless of what district plan provisions may otherwise allow.
Operative In relation to a regional policy statement, regional plan, or district plan (or any part of these), ‘operative’ means all outstanding challenges (submissions and appeals) have been dealt with or resolved, and the date the local authority has publically notified for the plan being operative has passed. When a plan is made operative, any previous plan it replaced no longer needs to be complied with.
Outline plan of works A plan provided to a local authority by a requiring authority that provides details as to the scale, location and shape of a particular work or project covered by a designation, as well as any landscaping, earthworks, vehicle access and environmental effect management measures that are proposed. Outline plans are not required if this information was already included in the notice of requirement. Outline plans are not publicly notified.
Permitted activity Use or development of land or a natural or physical resource that can be undertaken without a resource consent.
Plan change The process through which local authorities amend or update operative regional policy statements, regional plans, and district plans. The process usually involves public submissions and hearings.
Planning blight The negative impacts of plan provisions on a site or surrounding area, such as difficulty in selling or developing a site because it is subject to a designation for infrastructure development.
Private plan change A plan change that is requested or initiated by a party other than the local authority responsible for a plan, and which the local authority has not adopted as its own.
Prohibited activities Activities identified in a regional plan or district plan that cannot be carried out, and for which no resource consent can be applied for.
Proposed plan A regional or district plan that has been publicly notified but which has not passed the stage where it is beyond challenge through submissions or appeals. It is therefore not yet operative.
Public notification

(publically notified)
The process of alerting members of the wider community that a particular resource consent application, notice of requirement, proposed plan or plan change is available for viewing and that submissions can be made on it. The notice is usually in newspapers and on the local authority’s website, and is sent in the mail to people the local authority thinks will be directly affected.
Public-private partnership A contractual agreement between Government and business where the Government pays business to deliver infrastructure or services over a long period of time. A common model is for the responsibility for delivering the service or infrastructure to be retained by Government, but for financial responsibility for the condition and performance of the infrastructure or service to rest with the business partner.
Roll-over When a new plan automatically includes provisions (such as designations) from an old plan without having to redraft and consider the provisions as if they were completely new.
Regional coastal plan A type of regional plan prepared by a regional council or unitary authority specific to managing the coastal environment. Regional coastal plans are the only regional plans that are mandatory.
Regional council A council that is set up to (among other things) manage effects on the quality of air, water and soil of a region, maintain biodiversity, allocate natural and physical resources, and co-ordinate the provision of infrastructure with the use of land.
Regional plan A plan prepared by a regional council to help it carry out its functions under the RMA, particularly in regard to managing environmental effects on water, air and soil. Rules in regional plans determine whether a resource consent is required for specific activities (for example, the discharge of contaminants or the taking, use, damming, draining or diversion of a waterway).
Regional policy statement (RPS) A strategic-level document prepared by regional councils and unitary authorities under the RMA that identifies the resource management issues of the region and provides direction for the integrated management and resolution of those issues through objectives, policies and methods. A RPS contains no rules, but must be reflected and implemented through regional and district plans that do contain rules.
Requiring authority A status given to a Government minister, local authority, or a Government-approved company that operates a network utility (for example, a railway or roading system, electricity transmission lines or gas pipeline). Requiring authorities are the only people or companies able to use designations. More information on how they work is provided in Appendix 4.
Resource consent A formal permission from a consent authority to use or develop a natural resource or land in a way that is not permitted by the regional or district plan, or a national environmental standard.
Reverse sensitivity A term used to describe the impact of a new land use setting up near an existing, lawfully established activity, and the new activity objecting to the effects generated by the existing activity, thereby threatening the latter’s continued operation. For example, new housing being built close to an established quarry such that residents who move in are exposed to noise, dust and vibration from the quarry. Reverse sensitivity can result in the threat of, or actual, restrictions being placed on the existing land use, which can undermine its ongoing operation and may force it to close or move elsewhere.
Social infrastructure Assets that accommodate social services such as health (hospitals), education (schools and universities), state housing, justice (police stations, courts and prisons) and community recreation (halls, sport stadiums and parks, for example).
Solatium A payment made as compensation for grief or stress caused. In the context of this document it is used for the acquisition of land for a particular project, when that land has a person’s private house on it.
Spatial plan A 20–30 year strategy that sets the strategic direction for a community and which serves as the basis for the co-ordination of decision-making, infrastructure, services and investment. It is a means of aligning other council plans. A spatial plan provides a visual illustration of the intended future location and mix of residential, rural and business areas, along with the critical infrastructure required to service those areas and any relevant environmental constraints (for example, hazards or areas that need to be protected from development).
Structure plan A plan that guides the development (or redevelopment) of a area by showing proposed future development and land-use patterns, areas of open space, the layout and nature of infrastructure (including transportation links), and other key features for managing the effects of development.
Submission A written statement outlining support, opposition, and/or commenting on a particular proposal (resource consent, plan change or designation, for example). They must follow a particular format, but can be lodged with a consent authority, local authority, or board of inquiry in paper or electronic form (email, for example).
Sunset clause A provision under which a process, protocol, power, or agency is to be abolished after a specified period of time (or particular event has occurred).
Territorial authority City and district councils with functions for controlling land use (ie, what activities can take place on land and where, and their scale) and subdivision of land (such as for future housing developments). Territorial authorities are normally smaller in area than regional councils, and there may be several territorial authorities in a single region.
Unitary authority A single council that has the functions and roles of both a regional council and a territorial authority.
Urban amenities Features, places or services in a town or city that are beneficial because of some useful purpose they provide or which add to the enjoyment of residents. Examples include, water treatment facilities, hospitals, libraries, schools, stadiums, public meeting areas and parks, theatres and other recreational facilities.
Urban design The design of the buildings, places, spaces and networks that make up our towns and cities, and the ways people use them. It ranges in scale from a metropolitan region, city or town down to a street, public space or even a single building. Urban design is concerned not just with appearances and built form, but also with the environmental, economic, social and cultural consequences of design.