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Appendix 1: Relevant Extracts from the Resource Management Act

Section 2 of the RMA defines environment as:

Environment” includes—

(a)    Ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities; and
(b)    All natural and physical resources; and
(c)    Amenity values; and
(d)    The social, economic, aesthetic, and cultural conditions which affect the matters stated in paragraphs (a) to (c) of this definition or which are affected by those matters:

Section 3 of the RMA defines the meaning of “effect”. The full text of section 3 is as follows:

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, the term “effect” includes—

(a)    Any positive or adverse effect; and
(b)    Any temporary or permanent effect; and
(c)    Any past, present, or future effect; and
(d)    Any cumulative effect which arises over time or in combination with other effects – regardless of the scale, intensity, duration, or frequency of the effect, and also includes—
(e)    Any potential effect of high probability; and
(f)     Any potential effect of low probability which has a high potential impact.

Section 5 of the RMA defines its purpose as being to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. Sustainable management means:

Managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety while—

(a)    Sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
(b)    Safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and
(c)    Avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.

Natural and physical resources are defined in the RMA to include land, water, air, soils, minerals, and energy, all forms of plants and animals (whether native to New Zealand or introduced), and all structures.

There are a number of matters of national importance identified in section 6 of the RMA. These have to be recognised and provided for. The full text of section 6 is as follows:

6. Matters of national importance—
In achieving the purpose of this Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development and protections of natural and physical resources, shall recognise and provide for the following matters of national importance:
(a)    The preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment (including the coastal marine area), wetlands, and lakes and rivers and their margins, and the protection of them from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development:
(b)    The protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development:
(c)    The protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna:
(d)    The maintenance and enhancement of public access to and along the coastal marine area, lakes, and rivers:
(e)    The relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu, and other taonga.
(f)     The protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development.
(g)    The protection of recognised customary activities.

There are other matters that also need to be considered. These are set out in section 7. The full text of section 7 is as follows:

7. Other matters—

In achieving the purpose of this Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall have particular regard to—
(a)    Kaitiakitanga:
(aa) The ethic of stewardship:
(b)    The efficient use and development of natural and physical resources:
(ba) The efficiency of the end use of energy:
(c)    The maintenance and enhancement of amenity values:
(d)    Intrinsic values of ecosystems:
(e)    Repealed.
(f)     Maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment:
(g)    Any finite characteristics of natural and physical resources:
(h)    The protection of the habitat of trout and salmon:
(i)     The effects of climate change:
(j)     The benefits to be derived from the use and development of renewable energy.

The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are also to be taken into account under section 8. The full text of section 8 is as follows:

8. Treaty of Waitangi –

In achieving the purpose of this Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi).

Sections 93 to 95D of the RMA set out the requirements for notification, non-notification and limited notification. The presumption is an application will be publicly notified in accordance with section 93 unless the criteria for limited notification or non-notification are met. The full text of section 93 to 94D is as follows:

93. When public notification of consent applications is required—
(1)    A consent authority must notify an application for a resource consent unless—
(a)    the application is for a controlled activity; or
(b)    the consent authority is satisfied that the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor.
(2)    If subsection (1) applies, the consent authority must notify the application by—
(a)    publicly notifying it in the prescribed form; and
(b)    serving notice of it on every person prescribed in regulations.

94. When public notification of consent applications is not required—
(1)    If notification is not required under section 93(1), the consent authority must serve notice of the application on all persons who, in the opinion of the consent authority, may be adversely affected by the activity, even if some of those persons have given their written approval to the activity.
(2)    However, a consent authority is not required to serve notice of the application under subsection (1) if all persons who, in the opinion of the consent authority, may be adversely affected by the activity have given their written approval to the activity.

94A Forming opinion as to whether adverse effects are minor or more than minor—
When forming an opinion, for the purpose of section 93, as to whether the adverse effects of an activity on the environment will be minor or more than minor, a consent authority—
(a)    may disregard an adverse effect of the activity on the environment if the plan permits an activity with that effect; and
(b)    for a restricted discretionary activity, must disregard an adverse effect of the activity on the environment that does not relate to a matter specified in the plan or proposed plan as a matter for which discretion is restricted for the activity; and
(c)    must disregard any effect on a person who has given written approval to the application.94B Forming opinion as to who may be adversely affected—
(1)    Subsections (2) to (4) apply when a consent authority is forming an opinion, for the purpose of section 94(1), as to who may be adversely affected by the activity.
(2)    The consent authority must have regard to every relevant statutory acknowledgement, within the meaning of an Act specified in Schedule 11, made in accordance with the provisions of that Act.
(3)    A person –
(a)    may be treated as not being adversely affected if, in relation to the adverse effects of the activity on the person, the plan permits an activity with that effect; or
(b)    in relation to a controlled or restricted discretionary activity, must not be treated as being adversely affected if the adverse effects of the activity on the environment do not relate to a matter specified in the plan or proposed plan as a matter for which –
(i)     control is reserved for the activity; or
(ii)   discretion is restricted for the activity; or
(c)    must not be treated as being adversely affected if it is unreasonable in the circumstances to seek the written approval of that person.
(4)    However, the holder of a customary rights order must be treated as being adversely affected if, in the opinion of the consent authority, the grant of a resource consent may adversely affect a recognised customary activity carried out in accordance with section 17A(2).

94C Public notification if applicant requests or if special circumstances exist—
(1)    If an applicant requests, a consent authority must notify an application for a resource consent by —
(a)    publicly notifying it in the prescribed form; and
(b)    serving notice of it on every person prescribed in regulations.
(2)    If a consent authority considers that special circumstances exist, a consent authority may notify an application for a resource consent by—
(a)    publicly notifying it in the prescribed form; and
(b)    serving notice of it on every person prescribed in regulations.

94D When public notification and service requirements may be varied—
(1)    Despite section 93(1)(a), a consent authority must notify an application for a resource consent for a controlled activity in accordance with section 93(2) if a rule in a plan or proposed plan expressly provides that such an application must be notified.
(2)    Despite section 93(1)(b), a consent authority is not required to notify an application for a resource consent for a restricted discretionary activity if a rule in a plan or proposed plan expressly provides that such an application does not need to be notified.
(3)    Despite section 94(1), a consent authority is not required to serve notice of an application for a resource consent for a controlled or restricted discretionary activity if a rule in a plan or proposed plan expressly provides that notice of such applications does not need to be served.
(4)    A rule included in a plan under subsection (3) does not waive the need to serve an application if, in the opinion of the consent authority, the grant of a resource consent may adversely affect a recognised customary activity carried out in accordance with section 17A(2).