Site Use

Considering how a building and site impact on each other, enhancing energy efficiency, comfort and convenience.

Resource Management Act (RMA)

For many years the Resource Management Act (RMA) has provided a framework for regional, city/district and unitary councils to manage the land and environment under their jurisdiction. The Coalition Government elected in 2023 has said it plans to amend the Act.

Councils are required to produce Regional or District Plans for the management of air, water, land and sea and define the activities that may or may not be carried out as of right.

Under the Act, activities that are considered to adversely affect the environment, and therefore may not be carried out as of right, require resource consent. There are five different types of resource consent that are issued by different consent authorities:

Type of consent Consenting authority responsible
Land use consent Regional, city or district council
Subdivision consent City or district council
Coastal permit Regional council
Water permit Regional council
Discharge permit Regional council

National Environmental Standards

Under the RMA, the Minister for the Environment can prepare national environmental standards (NES).

These standards are set so everyone in New Zealand has clear air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean land to live on. The standards are regulations and every regional, city or district council must give effect to them. Failing to comply with an NES may result in the council taking enforcement action against the person or body responsible (such as a landowner or developer).

Local authorities cannot grant resource consents that would breach the standards and cannot impose stricter requirements through rules or resource consents unless the NES says they may. New standards do not affect existing resource consents or existing use rights.

There are currently five NESs in force as regulations:

  • Air quality
  • Sources of human drinking water
  • Telecommunications facilities
  • Electricity transmission
  • Assessing and managing contaminants in soil to protect human health.

The air quality NES (in relation to wood burners) and the soil contaminants NES (in relation to subdividing or changing land use) may be relevant to resource consents for building projects.


Updated: 20 January 2024