The RMA promotes the sustainable management of natural and physical resources such as land, air and water, and it is New Zealand’s principal legislation for environmental management.

Since the 1990’s The Resource Management Act (RMA) has been in effect and has influenced and to a degree controlled Land Development and Subdivision within New Zealand.

Amongst other things this Statute provides the legislative framework from which National, Regional and Local Authorities then provide National Environmental Standards, Regional Policy Statements, Regional and District Plans and other such documents, that together form a suite of regulations to ensure that the purposes of the Act are achieved.

The Act requires that certain uses of natural resources (land being one of these) require a specific authorisation by resource consent. As part of an application for resource consent, an Assessment of Environmental Effects is required. This assessment, in theory, includes all potential impacts on the environment with ‘sustainability’ as a strong consideration.
Resource consents by definition include:

  • Land Use activities – to undertake a land use.
  • Subdivision activities – to subdivide land and airspace.
  • Water permits – to take natural water.
  • Discharge permits – to discharge to ground or watercourses.
  • Coastal permits – to undertake activities about the coastal margins.

In a general sense, all growth and development projects need to be considered in light of the RMA. Most projects will require resource consent(s), and each of these authorisations will normally incorporate conditions that will have to be satisfied or met by the consent holder. Some of these conditions can be met by ensuring the development is completed in a prescribed manner, while other conditions will require ongoing compliance through the life of the activity.

It is vital that everyone who is involved in growth and development activities in New Zealand is aware of and familiar with the relevant provisions of the Resource Management Act. They must also understand how it influences and controls not only the relevant development processes but also the project outcomes.