Resource Management Act

The Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991 is primarily concerned with the management of natural and physical resources.

It is the main law controlling the use of land, soil, water, and air as well as subdivision and noise.

The purpose of the Act

The purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991 is to 'promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources'. 'Sustainable management', according to the Act, means 'managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety while:

  • Sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations
  • Safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems
  • Avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.'

A guide to the Act is available on the Ministry for the Environment website.

How does the Resource Management Act affect you?

If you wish to change the use of land, carry out a new activity or subdivide land you need to check with the Council whether your activity is permited or requires a resource consent approval.

If you are adversely affected by any new land use or activity which requires resource consent approval, then in most cases you will be given the opportunity to comment on the proposal.

When a resource consent is publicly notified you have the opportunity to make submissions, and to be heard by the Council's Hearings Committee.

You have the opportunity to make submissions to the new District Plan or changes to the operative plan. 

Who is responsible for what?

Organisation Responsibilities
Ministry for the Environment
  • Administering the Act for central government
  • Producing guidelines and monitoring the effectiveness of the Act
Waimakariri District Council
  • Control of land subdivision
  • Management of the effects of activities arising from land use
  • Control of activities on the surface of the water
  • Control of noise emissions and the mitigation of the effects of noise
Environment Canterbury
  • Discharges to land, air and water
  • Beds of rivers
  • Natural hazards
  • Soil conservation
  • The coastal marine area
  • Water (takes, diversions, damming)
  • Hazardous substances

Occasionally, you may need consents from both Environment Canterbury and the Waimakariri District Council to carry out an activity. You must apply to each council, but the consents may be processed jointly.