Clauses 2 - 3C of the First Schedule of the Resource Management Act 1991(RMA) set out statutory requirements for consultation which must occur before the notification of any proposed plan. These requirements apply to developing new plans, undertaking plan reviews and making variations or changes to proposed or operative plans, including plan change requests made under Part 2 of the First Schedule. For more information on private plan change requests see the guidance note on private plan changes.
Clause 3(1) provides the following list of parties that councils must consult with in preparing a proposed plan:
- the Minister for the Environment; and
- those other Ministers of the Crown who may be affected by the policy statement or plan; and
- local authorities who may also be affected; and
- the tangata whenua of the area who may be so affected, through iwi authorities; and
- any customary marine title group in the area.
Councils may also consult with any other parties (Clause 3(2), which must be undertaken in accordance with s82 of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) (Clause 3(4)). This section of the LGA sets out a series of principles for consultation.
Regional Policy Statements - Clause 3A of the First Schedule specifically requires that a regional council, and every territorial authority whose district is wholly or partly within a region, enter into an agreement on consultation processes when a regional policy statement is reviewed; or when a change or variation is being prepared. This agreement must form part of the triennial agreements under s15 of the LGA. This agreement on consultation processes is particularly important, given that territorial authorities are required to give effect to any revised regional policy statement.
These agreements must be in place before 1 March following a local authority election and remain in force until they are replaced by another agreement. Amendments can be made to an agreement provided that these are completed before the next local authority election.
If after 1 March following a local authority election, the local authorities cannot agree on the consultation process, they are required to notify the Minister for the Environment. If the matter is not submitted to mediation by the local authorities concerned, or mediation has been unsuccessful, the decision on the consultation process will be made by the Minister for the Environment, or persons appointed by the Minister.
Regional Coastal Plans - Clauses 2(2) and 3(3) of the First Schedule require that a regional council must consult with the following parties when preparing a proposed regional coastal plan:
- the Minister of Conservation
- iwi authorities of the region
- any customary marine title group in the region
- the Minister of Transport
- the Minister of Fisheries
Previous consultation - Clause 3C provides the ability for councils to combine consultation exercises where appropriate, potentially helping to reduce consultation fatigue and make more efficient use of resources. This means that people who must be consulted under clause 3 need not be re-consulted if they have been consulted on the same issue under another enactment within 36 months. However, this applies only if they were advised that the initial consultation would apply to RMA matters.