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Why national direction under the Resource Management Act 1991 is required

In New Zealand most decisions on how resources are managed are made locally by local authorities (ie, councils). In some cases it is appropriate to have a nationally consistent approach (ie, national direction).

Reasons for national direction 

These include:

  • the issue is of national importance and greater direction should be provided to local authorities at a national level to give certainty
  • the issue involves significant national benefits or costs
  • the costs of local variation outweigh the benefits
  • it is necessary to give effect to other Government policy or regulation (such as the New Zealand Energy Strategy)
  • the issue relates to Government obligations including the Treaty of Waitangi and international obligations.

National direction instruments under the RMA

There is a range of instruments under the RMA that can be used to develop a nationally consistent approach to resource management issues, including:

  • national policy statements — which state objectives and policies for matters of national significance that are relevant to achieving sustainable management. They may also include more specific direction on how the objectives and policies are to be given effect to in policy statements and plans.
  • national environmental standards — which are regulations that prescribe technical standards, methods or other requirements for environmental matters
  • national planning standards — which set out requirements relating to the structure, format or content of regional policy statements and plans 
  • regulations under section 360 — which generally deal with matters:
    • of detail or implementation
    • of a technical nature
    • likely to require frequent alteration or updating.