Resource Management Act: RMA Link: Topics: Details

The RMAlink project aims to make community participation in all Resource Management Act processes more straightforward and less time-consuming. More effective participation from those with a concern for the environment will contribute towards improving environmental outcomes nationwide.

Topics: Details

Hosted by:

Wellington Community Network
Subject Coastal & Marine

Text Regional Coastal Plans
Regional coastal plans cover activities in the coastal marine area (mean high water springs to 12 nautical miles offshore), but not the wider coastal environment covered by the NZ Coastal Policy Statement. Regional coastal plans must be consistent with the NZCPS, and with the Regional Policy Statement.

Sections 63-70 outline requirements and procedures for regional plans. Sections 63(2) and 64 deal specifically with regional coastal plans.

Regional Coastal Plan rules will be required to control the following activities;

  • The occupation of space on the foreshore and seabed e.g.jetties, marine farms, port developments, seawalls, erosion control works,
  • The allocation of sand and shingle resources (coastal tendering procedures may apply, Sections 151-165)
  • Navigation structures buoys, markers, lights, lighthouses
  • Natural hazards, hazardous substances
  • Surface water activities,
  • Discharges of wastewater, contaminants
  • Management of coastal habitats
Consents in the CMA are called coastal permits. In the coastal marine area, no activity is permitted unless there is a resource consent or rule in a plan that specifically permits it. This is the opposite presumption of the usual effects based approach to land use activities under the RMA, i.e. Section 9 does not apply. A coastal permit will usually be required for the following activities:
  • Erect, alter or remove any structure in the CMA
  • Reclaim, drain occupy or disturb the foreshore or seabed
  • Occupy any part of the CMA
  • Deposit anything in or under the foreshore or seabed, e.g. telecommunications or power cables, pipes, artificial reefs
  • Remove sand, shingle or similar material
  • Discharge any contaminant or water into the CMA
As outlined in the first schedule of the NZCPS, certain activities will be listed in regional coastal plan rules as restricted coastal activities. The Minister of Conservation grants permits for these, and the application process is different from other coastal permits.

The Minister of Conservation must approve regional coastal plans. DOC and regional councils need to liaise when plans are being prepared. DOC is responsible for identifying areas of significant conservation value, which should be clearly shown on plan maps and/or listed in a schedule.

When submitting on a regional coastal plan, the regional policy statement and NZCPS are essential references, so you can check the proposed plan for consistency with these. The NZ Biodiversity Strategy is also relevant.

Coastal Environment Plans
To achieve integrated management of the wider coastal environment, policies and provisions that apply to the coastal marine area, and the land adjacent to it, should be properly coordinated. This is outside the scope of a regional coastal plan. Some councils have dealt with this issue by preparing a coastal environment plan. An example is the Environment Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan. Section 78A of the RMA provides for the preparation of joint plans.


DOC (1994) New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 1994
Department of Conservation, Wellington. 26p. ISBN 0 4780158 9 5
Available online at

DOC and MFE(2000) The NZ Biodiversity Strategy
Department of Conservation and Ministry for the Environment, Wellington ISBN 0-478 21919-9
Strategy prepared to meet obligations under the 1993 UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Vision, goals and principles for biodiversity management at a national level. Pages 55-68 deal with coastal and marine biodiversity. Copies available from DOC, or online at

Royal NZ Forest and Bird Protection Society Inc (1995) Stopping the Bulldozers Before They Start The Forest and Bird Guide to Resource Management Plans.
Chapter 7, p63-84, provides straightforward, plain english resources for anyone wishing to make a submission on a regional coastal plan, or a district plan. It contains suggestions for policies and rules that would give a good level of protection to coastal ecosystems.

Peart, R (2004) The Community Guide to the Resource Management Act 1991
Environmental Defence Society, Auckland.
Section 10.3 Coastal Management p100-104. A useful outline of key coastal management issues for communities to consider when reviewing plans and policy statements. Includes mention of the interface with Oceans Policy.

MFE (1998) Draft Policy Goals for Coasts, Estuaries. Technical Paper no. 41, Marine Environment.
Available online at
This report is useful if you wish to make a submission on a plan or a policy statement. It collects together and summarises the requirements of the RMA and the NZ Coastal Policy Statement. Check the policies and provisions of the Regional Policy Statement or Regional Coastal Plan that you are reviewing, or policies and provisions relating to the broader coastal environment if it is a district plan. Does the plan address all the issues that are summarised in this document?

Memon, P. A., Perkins, H. (2000) Environmental Planning and Management in New Zealand
Dunmore Press, Palmerston North.
Chapter 20 Regional Coastal Plans: The First Generation p223-227 by M. Hilton.

Journal Articles

Britton, R. (2005) Regional Coastal Plans
Planning Quarterly, March 2005, p23-24
Matters that should be considered by regional councils in the review of plans for coastal areas.

Web-Based Resources

Resources: Coastal Management section contains a brief summary of key coastal management issues under the RMA, including interface with Oceans Policy.

Resources: See Plan Status for a list of regional coastal plans. See also Policy Framework in Guidance on Planning Process for general notes on plan preparation.

Resources: Site of the Cawthron Institute. Several reports on marine biosecurity issues related to introduced organisms and ships ballast water.