Plan change process

You can apply to us for a change to a regional or district plan. A council cannot apply directly to us, but can request that the Minister for the Environment call in a plan change and refer it to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court.

This flowchart shows the process for a plan change request lodged with us and directed to a board of inquiry.

RMA plan change process

Description of the plan change process

The sections referred to are from the Resource Management Act 1991.

  1. The Plan Change Request is lodged with us.
  2. We may request further information under s149.
  3. We recommend a course of action for a decision-making body to the Minister of the Environment no later than 20 working days after receiving a matter lodged under s146.
  4. After the Minister receives a recommendation from us, he or she may make a direction under s147 to either refer the matter to a Board of Inquiry, to the Environment Court or to a local authority as the decision-making body.
  5. The Minister has now directed the plan change request to a Board of Inquiry under s147 (1)(a).
  6. The Board will consult with the local authority on its views before making its decision in accordance with s149M(3)(b).
  7. The Board then considers if further information or modification is required under s1489M(3)(a), and Schedules 23 & 24.
  8. If the Board requires further information or modification, the applicant will modify their request or provide the further information.
  9. Once the Board is satisfied with the further information or modification or if there is no such further request, the Board will decide to accept or reject the request entirely under s149M(2).
  10. If the Board rejects the request entirely, the Board must serve notice of its decision on the applicant and local authority under s149M(5).
  11. If the Board accepts the request entirely, the local authority must prepare and serve a copy of the proposed plan change on us no later than 4 months after the local authority was served with notice of the Board's decision in accordance with s149N.
  12. On receiving a copy of the proposed plan change, we must give public notice and provide for a 20 working day submission period as required under s149O.
  13. We must produce a summary of all the submissions on the matter and give public notice of the following as required under s149F:
    1. availability of the summary of submissions on the matter
    2. where the summary and the submissions can be inspected
    3. no later than 10 working days after the day on which the public notice was given, the persons described in section 149F (3) may make a further submission on the matter
    4. the date of the last day of making a further submission
    5. the address for service of the EPA.
  14. The Board will consider the plan change request in accordance with s149L and s149P.
  15. As soon as practicable after the Board of inquiry has completed its inquiry on the plan change request, the Board must prepare and produce a draft decision report. We must invite persons to whom it sends the draft report to i.e. those persons listed in s1489Q(3), to send any comments on minor or technical aspect of the report to us no later than 20 working days after the date of invitation – s149Q.
  16. As soon as practicable after the 20 working days provided for comments, the Board must consider any comments received, make its decision and produce a written report. The Board must provide the written decision report no later than 9 months after the day on which the EPA gave public notice – s149R(1).
  17. We must publish the Board's final decision report to those listed in s149R(4) and give public notice of where and how copies of the report can be obtained – s149R(5).
  18. The local authority must then implement the decision of the Board under s149W.