Policy 1: Regional Rules for Activities Restricted by the RMA
Adopt regional rules for resource use activities that are restricted under Part III of the RMA, pursuant to s13(1), s14(1) and s15(1) that (taking into account scientific uncertainty and lack of information):
- permit all activities that are likely to have no more adverse effects on the environment provided that specified conditions are met
- regulate those activities that are likely to have more than minor effects, either individually or cumulatively, on the environment and require site specific consent conditions to ensure that the effects are avoided, remedied or mitigated
- prohibit those activities for which there is clear evidence that the activity is likely to have adverse effects that are so significant that they could not be adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated under any circumstances.
Policy 2: Regional Rules For Activities Not Restricted by the RMA
For resource use activities that are provided for by Part III of the RMA pursuant to s9, s13 (2), s14(3) (b) and s15(2) to intervene by way of regional rules only where (taking into account scientific uncertainty and lack of information):
- information that can be verified, shows that the activity is likely to cause adverse effects on the environment
- regional rules, either on their own, or in combination with other methods, are the most appropriate means of managing those adverse effects.
Policy 3: Encourage Best Practice
Use a combination of enabling rules (where appropriate) and non-regulatory methods such as advocacy, environmental education, economic incentives and the development of good practice guides to give resource users incentives to adopt best practice.
Policy 4: Monitoring and Enforcement
Where activities are permitted in accordance with Policies 1 and 2, monitor the adverse effects of these activities, and ensure that they are managed in accordance with the conditions in the Plan and:
- if there is non-compliance with a permitted activity rule or an activity has adverse effects that are inconsistent with the policies and methods, including conditions of rules of the Plan, use appropriate enforcement mechanisms under s17 and Part XII of the RMA to ensure compliance
- where the adverse effects of the activity are widespread across the whole or part of the Region change the Plan to ensure that the adverse effects are adequately managed.
Policy 5: Assessment Criteria
Provide clarity and certainty by way of assessment criteria that will be considered as part of the consent process.
Policy 6: Consent Duration
When determining consent duration, there will be a presumption for the duration applied for unless an analysis of the case indicates that a different duration is more appropriate having had regard to case law, good practice guidelines, the potential environmental risks and any uncertainty in granting the consent.
Policy 7: Assessing Effects for Sites with Multiple Discharges
Assess and manage the effects of discharges from a site to take into account the cumulative effects of all the discharges occurring from the site, proposal or project.
Policy 8: Resource Consents for Sites with Multiple Discharges
Provide consent applicants the opportunity to combine all issues or activities undertaken at a site, project or proposal into one resource consent.
Policy 9: Elements of Good Consultation
Where consultation is considered to be necessary Council will have regard to the following matters:
- Whether all the parties likely to be affected by the proposed activity have been identified and consulted.
- Whether the parties have provided all relevant information on the proposal.
- Whether reasonable time was allowed for consideration of and response to material provided.
- Whether any further value can be added to the decision-making process by further consultation.
- The degree to which the views of affected parties have been take into account by modifying the original proposal.
- Any written approvals from parties likely to be affected.
- Council’s view is that consultation is a means to an end, not an outcome in its own right.
Policy 10: Consultation with Tangata Whenua
In addition to the requirements of Policy 9, ensure that assessments of environmental effects on resource consent applications include, where appropriate:
- a record of consultation conducted with tangata whenua
- information on how the activity will affect the relationship of tangata whenua with the natural and physical resources that Waikato Regional Council is responsible for managing in this Plan.
Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting the Policies
Policies 1 and 2 collectively achieve Objectives 1 to 4. They acknowledge that in developing this Plan, a key consideration has been the extent to which a regulatory approach (i.e. rules) is appropriate in achieving the Plan’s objectives. The scale thresholds and/or conditions that demarcate permitted and controlled/discretionary activity rules under these policies identify the point at which the risks become significant based on Council’s experience of managing these activities and technical information. It should be noted for the purposes of Policy 1(a) that activities may be permitted by the Plan if they are likely to have no more than minor adverse effects, or if non-site specific conditions on the permitted activity rules result in the effects being avoided, remedied, or mitigated to the extent that they are no more than minor.
For resource use activities that are provided for by Part III of the RMA without the need for consents unless regulated by a rule in the plan, a combination of enabling rules (permitted and controlled activity rules) and non-regulatory methods will be used where appropriate. Examples of non-regulatory methods include advocacy, environmental education, economic incentives and the development of good practice guides to give resource users incentives to adopt best practice.
Policy 3 identifies that where an activity is enabled as a consequence of Policies 1 and 2, that simply enabling an activity will not achieve the Plan’s objectives for the management of natural and physical resources. Where activities are enabled by the Plan, a suite of nonregulatory methods such as environmental education or incentives will be required to ensure that the Plan’s objectives are still achieved.
Policy 4 identifies that in order to achieve Objective 1, Waikato Regional Council has made as many activities as practicable, permitted or controlled. This relies on activities being carried out using good practice, which the Council believes is the intention of most people. However, it is also necessary to be able to take action when activities permitted by the Plan have harmful effects.
On a similar note, Policy 4 identifies that the step of permitting a wide range of previously restricted activities carries the risk that thresholds will be set too low, or that conditions on permitted activity rules will not ensure that adverse effects of activities are not more than minor. In order to ensure that the Plan is effectively achieving its objectives for the management of the Region’s natural and physical resources, Council will need to proactively monitor and enforce permitted activities and review the Plan on a regular basis.
Policies 5, 6 and 7 act together to provide greater certainty to resource users, thereby achieving Objective 4. The provision of clear assessment criteria along with guidance on the granting of consent terms and on how cumulative effects will be addressed are all important issues for consent applicants. Implementation of these policies will resolve many of the uncertainties inherent in the RMA.
Policy 8 identifies that where resource users wish to apply for a single consent for all their activities on site, Waikato Regional Council will provide an opportunity for that approach to be taken. Such an approach should reduce costs to resource users thereby helping to achieve Objective 2.
Policies 9 and 10 identify the need for good quality consultation with both resource users and submitters participating fully and openly if the purpose of the RMA is to be achieved. The policies provide a checklist of assessment criteria to assist hearings committees to determine if consultation has been adequate. This will assist in providing all parties certainty and clarity. The separate policy for consultation with tangata whenua is necessary as s6, s7 and s8 of the RMA give extra weight to the concerns of tangata whenua when considering resource consents. Good consultation with tangata whenua where they have an interest in a consent can go a long way towards minimising the costs of the resource consent process in the longer term.