Despite this, regional councils have developed and implemented regional plans for water, air. In the absence of regional plans many activities will require resource consents. Regional Plans specify the activities which will require resource consents (e.g. controlled activity, discretionary activity), activities which cannot be undertaken (prohibited activities) and activities which can be undertaken without resource consents (permitted activities).
Any person at his/her cost could request a regional council to either prepare or change a regional plan.
Under s25A of the RMA Minister for the Environment could direct a regional council to prepare, change or review (under s25B) a plan. Equally, any plan preparation or change (except for coastal plan) can be applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to be processed. If processed by the EPA there are no Environment Court appeals but there may be appeals to High Court on a question of law.
Contents of a regional plan follow the RPS framework but regional plans provide attention to details and regional rules. A regional plan must give effect to RPS and national and coastal policy statements and must be consistent with the water conservation order and other local regional plans. Regulations will prevail over the regional plan rules if the rules are less stringent than the regulations. Plans should be prepared on the basis of evaluation reports produced under s32 of the RMA. Plans can also specify notification requirements of resource consents.
Any plan or policy development or change must follow prescribed process under Schedule 1 of the RMA. All planning and policy developments will be consulted extensively by councils. Once developed plans/policies will be publicly notified for submissions. Hearings will be held after submissions. Hearing decisions are subject to appeals by submitters or those who requested plan change or preparation. Appeals will be heard and decided by the Environment Courts. In the case of Regional Coastal Plan, ultimate authorisation is required from the Minister of Conservation.