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About resource consents

Photo of a water supply dam On this page: What resource consents are, how Waikato Regional Council's rules work, activities that may require consents, land use consents, water consents, discharge consents, coastal consents, activities that do not require resource consents (permitted activities)

What resource consents are

Resource consents are permits that allow you to use or take water, land or coastal resources. They also allow the discharge of water or wastes into air, water or onto land.

Resource consents include special conditions to protect the environment. Consented activities are monitored to make sure that the conditions are being met.

There are five types of resource consents:

  1. Land use consents
  2. Water consents
  3. Discharge consents
  4. Coastal consents
  5. Subdivision consents.

Waikato Regional Council can only issue types 1-4. District councils issue subdivision consents.

Why we have consents

The Resource Management Act (RMA) gives Waikato Regional Council responsibility for sustainable management of our region’s natural resources. Sustainable management means:

  • allowing people to provide for their social, economic and cultural needs
  • safeguarding resources for future generations
  • safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems
  • avoiding, mitigating (lessening) or remedying any adverse effects of activities on the environment.

The RMA and our regional policies and plans provide rules and guidelines for sustainable resource management. We use these rules to control and monitor the use of our coasts, water, soil and air.

Waikato Regional Council also takes into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the special relationship Maori have with the land when considering consent applications.

Farming and agriculture plays a significant part in the Waikato region's economy and lifestyle. This means that much of Waikato Regional Council’s resource consent and compliance monitoring work involves farming activities or features such as:

  • farm animal odour and effluent discharges
  • irrigating crops and pasture
  • fertilising crops and pasture
  • spraying agrichemicals
  • drainage
  • constructing bridges, culverts and fords
  • making ponds and dams
  • tracking and earthworks
  • clearing vegetation
  • farm and household waste dumps and offal holes.

Some of these activities require consents, while others are ‘permitted’ and do not need a consent as long as the activity meets certain conditions.

Photo of drilling equipment being used to drill for ground waterHow Waikato Regional Council's rules work

Waikato Regional Council's Waikato Regional Plan and Regional Coastal Plan regulate activities that may impact on our soil, air, water and coastal resources.

The plans have a range of ‘permitted activity’ rules. These rules allow specific activities that, if well managed, should have little (if any) effects on people or the environment. Permitted activity rules require you to meet a range of conditions.

You will need a resource consent if:

  • the activity is not specifically addressed in the plan, or
  • you cannot meet the conditions of the relevant permitted activity rule.

Resource consents have special conditions attached. Waikato Regional Council monitors the operation of consented activities to ensure these conditions are being met and the effects on people or the environment are kept as minimal as possible.

Have a look at the rules covered by the:

Land use consents

 Different land uses can affect water quality, land stability and the incidence of flooding. Land use consents identify, control and minimise the impacts of activities on people and the environment.

You may need a land use consent if you want to:

Water consents

 Damming, diverting and taking water can affect people's ability to use the water, as well as affecting stream plant and animal life. Water consents identify, control and minimise the impacts of an activity on people and the environment.

You may need a water consent if you want to:

Click here if you would like some more information on taking water for use in your farm dairy

 Discharge consents

 Discharge consents cover activities which discharge contaminants:

  • into water
  • into or onto land
  • to air.

You may need a discharge consent if your activity is likely to:

Coastal consents

Coastal consents help protect the resources in the Waikato region's coastal marine area (CMA). This is a defined area of foreshore, seabed, coastal water, and air space above the sea. Spring high tide lines (‘mean high water springs’) extend the CMA further inland if the line crosses a river.

You may need a coastal consent for an activity in the CMA if you want to:

  • remove vegetation
  • remove or introduce a plant species
  • take or use water
  • discharge potentially contaminated water or water containing sediment
  • discharge treated or untreated wastes
  • dam or divert water
  • remove or deposit sand, shell, shingle or other natural materials
  • erect, place, use or occupy space for a structure
  • construct or alter a jetty or a marina
  • build erosion protection walls
  • operate a marine farm
  • use a vehicle
  • dredge
  • carry out drainage works
  • carry out a reclamation1
  • carry out a declamation2.

 Activities that do not require resource consents (permitted activities)

You will not need a resource consent if your activity is expressly allowed under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Waikato Regional Council's Regional Plan and Regional Coastal Plan also have a range of ‘permitted activity’ rules. These rules allow specific activities that, if well managed, should have little (if any) effects on people or the environment. Permitted activity rules require you to meet a range of conditions. If you cannot meet these conditions then you will need a resource consent.

Find out more about these permitted activities.

More information

Contact us for further advice on activities that require a consent. If you have any questions you can  phone consents staff during office hours our Resource Use Freephone 0800 800 402.

Report a pollution incident or illegal activity
Please let us know about any activity that may affect our region's coastal, water, soil or air resources. Use our online form to report the activity, or call Waikato Regional Council's Freephone 0800 800 401. Provide details about where and when the incident or activity took place and, if possible, the offender.

We also manage navigation safety issues within the Waikato region. Check out our Navigation Safety Bylaw and our navigation safety application forms

Annual Plan and Annual Report
Our Annual Plan and Annual Report outline the year’s consent and compliance monitoring activities. We report on the work we propose to do and what we have acheived.


  1. Reclamation - deliberately filling in an area previously covered by tide, so that the filled area's surface is raised above spring high tide lines.
  2. Declamation - constructing a channel or basin that causes land previously exposed above the waterline to be covered by tide or salt water.