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Regional councils

They are:

Five of the regional councils are unitary authorities that have both district and regional council functions under the RMA. They are:

  • Auckland
  • Gisborne
  • Nelson
  • Marlborough
  • Tasman

Functions of regional councils under the RMA

Regional councils control

  • the use of land, water, air and coastal marine area (CMA)1;
  • the use, storage and transportation of hazardous substances;
  • any discharges to air, land and water;
  • any takes, damming and diversion of water; and
  • any river bed related activities.

1CMA has been defined in section 2 (interpretation) of the RMA (briefly the coastal marine area begins at the line of mean high water springs (i.e.high tide mark) extending towards the ocean up to 12 nautical miles).

Regional councils control the use of land for the purpose of water quality and quantity management, avoidance of natural hazard, soil conservation and storage, use, disposal and transportation of hazardous substances.

Regional council controls can be applied through policies and rules.

Under rules activities can be classified as permitted, prohibited and ‘other’. Permitted activities would not require any resource consents while ‘others’ (e.g. controlled, discretionary, restricted discretionary and non-complying activities) require resource consents before carrying out the activities. Prohibited activities are illegal to carry out and therefore consents will not be granted for such activities.

In the past two years all regional councils have joined forces and created a website (LAND AIR WATER AOTEAROA) for the wider community to access the state of natural resources information. At the moment the website has very useful information on water quality.

Functions of regional councils under other Acts

The Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) applies to both district and regional councils. The LGA’s main purpose is to focus on council’s projects, budget, charges, rates, long-term or annual planning, annual reporting, bylaws and governance processes.

Under the Building Act 2004 regional councils are the building authorities for dams. To perform the full functions of the Building Act the regional councils have to be accredited. Currently, apart from the unitary councils four regional councils (Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago) have been accredited to process building consents for dams.

Under the Biosecurity Act 1993 regional councils have to develop pest management plans for their regions and control or manage pests. A regional council can declare any pest that has a significance under the Biosecurity Act.