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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Healthy Environments | He Taiao Mauriora » Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Why do we have a Waikato Regional Plan?

A regional plan guides and manages the use, development and protection of our region’s natural and physical resources. It is prepared under the Resource Management Act and promotes sustainable management of these resources.

Why do we have a Waikato Regional Coastal Plan?

This plan is used to manage any actual or potential effects from the use, development or protection of our region’s coastal marine area. The Resource Management Act requires regional councils to have regional coastal plans at all times. These may be integrated into other regional plans, which is proposed in the review.

Why are you reviewing these two plans?

Under the Resource Management Act, we are required to review these plans at least every 10 years. The review also allows us to reflect Government policy changes and respond to our changed regional environment.

What sorts of things will you look at in the review of the Waikato Regional Plan and the Regional Coastal Plan?

The review is looking at both the Waikato Regional Plan (covering land, air and freshwater) and the Regional Coastal Plan.

As part of the review we’ll look at whether the:

  • plans are fully implementing a range of legislative requirements
  • plans give effect to the Waikato Regional Policy Statement, the Waikato River Vision and Strategy/Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato, and aligns with our council’s strategic direction
  • rules sustain values of land and water, enable regional development and incorporate co-governance with iwi principles.

The Regional Policy Statement, national policy statements, National Environment Standards and the Waikato River Vision and Strategy are the guiding documents which these plans must give effect to.

Many parts of the regional plan are working well, but there are some parts that need improving. We will be leaving what is working well and focusing on what needs improving. In particular, we’ll be looking at:

  • the coastal environment
  • soils management
  • air quality
  • fresh water, surface, ground, lakes and wetlands (quality and quantity)
  • geothermal
  • natural hazards
  • infrastructure.

However, we are carrying out a full review of the regional coastal plan, which covers the sea area below high tide, out to the 12 mile offshore regional limit.

What’s your process for reviewing the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan and Regional Plan Coastal Plan?

Gathering information is a really important part of the review, and will include collecting and analysing scientific and other data. We’ll also be taking a close look at the existing policy.

In addition, we’ll look at whether:

  • the plans are fully implementing a range of legislative requirements
  • the plans implement  the Waikato Regional Policy Statement, the Waikato River Vision and Strategy/Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato, legislative documents and our council’s strategic direction
  • rules sustain values of land and water, enable regional development and incorporate co-governance with iwi principles.

It’s also really important to us that our communities are involved. So we’ll be partnering with iwi and carrying out targeted engagement with stakeholders and communities to help us understand their aspirations for managing natural resources while enabling their sustainable use and development into the future.

We’ll then be using this understanding to develop revised objectives, policies and rules, test and then finalise them before going out to the public for formal feedback.

Wouldn’t it make sense to combine these two plans?

As well as reviewing these two plans, they’ll eventually be combined and replaced with a single one: the Waikato Resource Management Plan.

How long will the review take?

Because of the size of the region, the diversity of topics and the need to engage with our community, it's a pretty big job! Also, a lot can change in 10 years. So the work will be phased over several years, eventually resulting in a single Waikato Resource Management Plan for the entire region by 2028.

What does it mean to “notify a change” to a plan?

This is the official term used when a revised plan is advertised for public submissions.

If we propose a change to an existing regional or coastal plan, we must “notify” the public of the proposed change and provide a minimum of 20 days for the public to lodge submissions on what has changed.

How much will the review cost?

Through the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan, we budgeted around $4 million for the review.

The plan review will follow a project management process, and the project has been sized and budgeted to enable us to do what we need to in terms of information, science, evidence, analysis and engagement to provide a quality plan. Work is forecast to continue through to at least 2022 (depending on submissions and appeals) and will be funded through the Waikato Regional Council’s general rate.

How will central government changes affect this review?

We're keeping a close eye on central government National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards and National Planning Standards and any changes it is proposing to the Resource Management Act. These will be mandatory changes and we will implement and national direction at the appropriate stages as required. 

What about Treaty Settlements and Coastal Customary Titles?

We're also monitoring Treaty Settlements(external link), which usually result in new legislation or mandatory requirements, as well as any Coastal and Marine Area claims(external link). We will adjust the review process as needed to accomodate and mandatory requirements coming out of these processes. 

Will there be opportunities for me to get involved?

Yes! We know how much our residents care about our region’s environment and want to see our natural resources protected now and into the future. So we’ll be giving you the opportunity to share your ideas with us at specific points throughout the review of both the plans.

How will changes to the Resource Management Act affect how you engage with people on this review?

We’re keeping a close eye on central government and the changes it’s proposing to the Resource Management Act. Once the new legislation has been enacted, we’ll consider what they could mean for this review, and will adjust our process if required.

When will consultation start?

The plan is to have several consultation rounds for each of the two plan review phases. This will ensure we capture your views. For phase one, we are expecting to start talking to interested and representative groups about the coastal resource management issues and options by 2020. The intention is to identify any issues and options that we have missed and any problems with the existing plans. Wider consultation on actual draft plan provisions is intended to continue through 2020 and formal notification of a revised coastal plan is expected in 2021.

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