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Quick Facts about the Proposed Natural Resources Plan

Quick Facts about the Proposed Natural Resources Plan

Updated 29 August 2019 1:04pm

Development of the proposed Plan

Developed through a partnership with mana whenua– the proposed Plan recognises the relationship that Māori with ancestral claims to the region (mana whenua) have with the region’s natural and physical resources. Special effort has been made to identify the values and sites of significance to mana whenua as well as provisions to recognise and protect these special places.

Five principles have guided the review by Te Upoko Taiao – Natural Resource Management Committee (WRC’s decision-making body of 7 mana whenua and 7 elected council members):

  • Ki uta ki tai– recognising that natural and physical resources are reliant on one and other – interconnected
  • Wairuatanga– recognises that people are connected to place – identify 
  • Kaitiakitanga– that we all are guardians of the regions natural and physical resources – guardianship
  • Tō mātou whakapono– decisions are to be based on best available knowledge in all its forms
  • Mahitahi – that in good faith Greater Wellington Regional Council, iwi and the wider community work together to develop the plan – partnership

Developed with others– the proposed Plan was developed based on input and contributions from a wide range of parties, including iwi, industry, environmental organisations, communities, other agencies and local councils.

  • Extensive public meetings, stakeholder workshops and feedback and consideration of comments on the Working Document for Discussion and the draft Plan
  • A plan that is more balanced between urban and rural activities
  • Anticipated to be implemented with more buy-in

Developed with new information– the proposed Plan improves on the current plans, in part because a larger base of information and analysis was available. This includes information and analysis collected on good management practices, community values, historic heritage, sites of significance, management efficiency and effectiveness and natural hazards.

Gives effect to most recent legislation (including New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management 2014, National Environmental Standards for Drinking Water and Air Quality) and recognises current policy (including the 2013 Regional Policy Statement), guidance and industry standards.

Structure of proposed Plan

Integrated objectives and policies  the proposed Plan will replace the five regional plans that currently have separate objectives and policies for managing the coast, soil, discharges to land, fresh water and air. This not only creates a document that is easier to use, it also reduces inconsistencies (such as those among the five current regional plans) and enables more integrated management between land and water and between fresh water and coastal water.

  • Considers the same policies and activity status across environments in a more consistent and integrated manner

Clearly written – the proposed Plan contains concise definitions and clearly written provisions. In contrast to the current regional plan, the provisions stand on their own and are not followed by the use of explanatory text, which in the past has led to confusion and misinterpretation.

  • There are more permitted activities (108 compared to 89) providing less need for consents, when appropriate
  • A greater number of prohibited activities (10 as compared to 4) – giving clear protection where needed
  • More restricted discretionary activities (16 compared to 4) reducing uncertainty and simplifying consenting

Catchment-specific chapters – catchment-specific, known as “whaitua”, chapters contain provisions that will be amended through variation and plan changes, and will assist in implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

  • Allows local communities to set their own water quality and quantity limits within the context of national bottom-lines - through the use of recommended plan changes developed by five whaitua committees

Greater emphasis on “place-based” protection – the proposed Plan contains extensive schedules and maps that identify sites that are significant for natural, cultural, social or physical values. Provisions in the proposed Plan are used to manage these places so that they are protected (and enhanced).

  • More detailed and informed schedules identifying significant values, e.g. significant biodiversity values or historic heritage  
  • Schedules of sites of significance to mana whenua
  • Identified and set objectives for primary swimming rivers
  • Better protection of trout habitat

On-line maps– to support the provisions and schedules, the proposed Plan uses indicative maps that are linked to GIS mapping, which offer more detail and can be zoomed into the individual property scale. Identified sites of significance have been mapped and are linked to their associated schedule.

Water Use

Allocation of freshwater– the proposed Plan uses current information that recognises the connections between groundwater and surface water and manages activities that take, use, dam or divert freshwater as one resource.

  • Drives more efficient water use and promoting sustainable water storage – to promote economic development

Water quality

Water quality – the proposed Plan objective is to maintain water quality or improve it where it does not meet the expectations of the community or of statute. An integrated package of regulatory and non-regulatory methods achieve this, including by expanding existing programmes such as farm environment planning, and by introducing investigations to better establish poor water quality in identified areas. 

  • The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management must be given effect to by 2022, in line with the Council’s progressive implementation programme and the progressive rolling out of each whaitua process. The key directions from the NPS-FM:
  • Requires councils to set water quality and quantity limits in regional plan to achieve defined outcomes by 2025 at the latest
  • Sets national bottom lines for all freshwater through the National Objective Framework

Discharges to land – the proposed Plan identifies and manages discharges to land within drinking water catchments, as required by the National Environmental Standard for Drinking Water.

Stormwater – the proposed Plan recognises that the discharge of stormwater can result in unacceptable effects on water quality and the health of rivers, streams, lakes and the coast. Provisions require most stormwater discharges from the large networks owned by local authorities to be improved over time through a two-stage consent process that also links to the water quality limits to be set through each whaitua process.

Livestock access – the proposed Plan has clear direction on how surface water bodies are to be protected from livestock access.


Biodiversity– the proposed Plan identifies sites of significance for indigenous biodiversity in the schedules and maps. Proposals for mitigation and biodiversity offsets will be assessed against defined and scheduled best practice.

Wetland protection – the proposed Plan has specific provisions for the protection and management of all wetlands in the region.

Coast and regionally significant infrastructure – Protects coastal areas from reclamation, while providing for the recognition of regionally significant infrastructure. 

  • The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 - Requires the avoidance of coastal reclamation except in specified circumstances

Air quality

Air quality – Prevents the burning of toxic materials open fires and wood burners – to clean up our air quality 

  • National Environmental Standard for Air Quality -Currently the Masterton township has air quality which does not meet this standard.

Hazard Management

Hazard management – The proposed Plan guides the development of a Regional Natural Hazard Strategy in partnership with Territorial Authorities.