The RMA Quality Planning Resource

The following list outlines a range of actions councils can take to create an internet-enabled RMA administration system. The actions are set out in order of priority, moving from those that allow online access to government information, services and processes, to those that allow the public to interact and undertake e-RMA transactions online (e.g. lodging resource consent applications and submissions).

The list is not exhaustive and is not intended to limit the range of information and services councils may wish to offer. A self-assessment template is also available. The template allows councils to measure their current online performance against the listed actions and to identify future targets.

  1. RMA information and services are located and accessed from the council home page
  2. Online RMA guidance is available
  3. Text of RMA policies and plans can be accessed online
  4. Maps in RMA planning documents can be accessed online
  5. Iwi and hapu RMA documents and contact details are available online
  6. RMA-related committee papers, minutes of proceeding, and schedules of council meetings can be viewed online
  7. RMA fee schedule is available online
  8. RMA forms can be downloaded
  9. Publicly notified resource consent applications, notices of requirement and proposed plan changes/variations can be viewed online
  10. Submissions can be prepared and lodged online
  11. Current appeals to the Environment Court can be viewed online
  12. The status and decision notice of all determined resource consents can be located and viewed online
  13. Statutory applications can be lodged online
  14. Applicants can monitor the progress of their statutory applications online
  15. Council RMA monitoring records can be viewed online
  16. State of the environment monitoring records can be viewed online
  17. Authoritativeness of online RMA information Self assessment template 

 

Action 1 - RMA information and services are located and accessed from the council home page

Objective

 Resource management related information and services can be easily accessed online from the council home page.

Why is this action important?

  • To make RMA related information and services easy to find and access
  • To encourage people to use online resource management information and services.

Implementation issues

Councils are the primary point of contact for RMA information and services, particularly resource consents. Consequently, it is important that RMA information and services are as accessible as possible on council websites and not concealed within more generic information relating to their wider regulatory functions. 

Improved access can be achieved through providing a direct link to RMA information from either the council home page or an RMA portal (portals are internet points of access for structuring information and services around the needs of the public which at their more basic act as a billboard). This will create a 'one-stop shop' for RMA information and services (i.e. RMA plans and consents).

If a separate RMA page or portal is not provided the following questions should be considered:

  • how well can the site be intuitively navigated by users?
  • how many different places do users need to visit to find the information or service they are seeking?
  • You can improve accessibility and usability by providing:
    • key information categories
    • good design factors including colour
    • clear navigation aids.

 How to implement this action

Provide a direct link from the council home page to an RMA information portal, or have separate links to information about resource consents and RMA policies and plans.

Action 2 - Online RMA guidance is available

Objective

The provision of online guidance to the public on the RMA and relevant policy statements and plans. Online guidance material should include sufficient detail to allow a basic RMA enquiry to be answered without having to phone or visit the council.

Why is this action important?

  • To make the RMA and related processes more understandable and less complex for members of the public.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.
  • To reduce the need for qualified RMA practitioners to provide basic advice.

Implementation issues

The extent and quality (e.g. interactive features) of guidance material provided on council websites will depend on the council's resources and capacity. The key issue is to ensure that the RMA advice is:

  • trustworthy
  • consistent
  • authoritative
  • up to date.

A range of options are available to provide online RMA guidance, from the provision of static information (i.e. using the internet as a billboard) to interactive features that allow a user to establish whether an activity requires a resource consent and the category of consent that applies.  Delivery options include:

  • frequently asked questions (FAQ's)
  • printable leaflets
  • links to RMA advice and related websites
  • interactive features (e.g. software that can be used to interrogate a district plan, sunlight access plane calculators)
  • an online RMA 'help desk '
  • regular maintenance of links to external websites to ensure they are still active and 'fit for purpose'.

Where an online RMA help desk is provided it is important that enquiries are responded to in a timely and comprehensive manner.

How to implement this action

Links to external websites that provide planning guidance (e.g. the Ministry for the Environment) are easily accessible.

Existing council leaflets are generally best presented in PDF format with links to related websites embedded in the text. Interactive features such as on-line enquiries can only be provided through HTML and associated databases.

Recording the range of planning related enquiries received over a 3-6 month period and then preparing FAQs to address issues that were frequently raised is an effective way to provide online guidance that fits the local context.

Action 3 - Text of RMA policies and plans can be accessed online

Objective

An up-to-date text version of RMA planning documents and material included by reference is able to be accessed online for use by the public.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide open and transparent access to a full range of RMA information.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries, and the time and money spent sending out hard copy excerpts of RMA planning documents. 

Implementation issues

Councils should ensure RMA planning documents (e.g. regional policy statements, district and/or regional plans) are available online as they are a key information source for people looking at carrying out an activity. Material that should be accessible to the public includes:

  • if a combined planning document is prepared, clear identification of the regional policy statement provisions
  • clearly identified operative and proposed versions of plans, policy statements and plan changes
  • an explanation of the status and relative weight that should be assigned to respective plans
  • an explanation of their status and relative weighting of any variations and/or plan changes
  • the legal effect of any proposed rules
  • links to national policy statements and national environmental standards
  • documents included by reference in RMA policy statements and plans (e.g. design guidance relating to a heritage precinct or a character area).

Some of the documents intended to be included by reference may not, however, be freely or readily available, or may contravene copyright laws if published on the internet (e.g. New Zealand Standards are often referred to in RMA plans but must be purchased before they can be viewed). The location of these documents should be identified so users can access them by other means.

Practical issues to consider when making these documents available online include:

  • providing guidance on how to use an RMA plan
  • how best to distinguish between an operative and proposed version of a plan (e.g. use of underlining or different font colours)
  • how best to identify those proposed rules that have legal effect at any particular time
  • the ability for users to download files through a dial up connection
  • how easy it is for users to search policy statements and plans
  • whether special software is required to view the plan (e.g. Java or Adobe software will help plan users).
  • Basic features sought by online RMA plan users include:
    • short 'drilling' distances - being able to get to a document with minimal 'drill down' from the home page (i.e. through hyperlinks to different pages)
    • two-way indexing - a well set-out index with linked access to different sections of the plan. There should also be ready access within each section back to the index page, including the map index page
    • authoritativeness - an up-to-date and accurate version, including an indication of the status of the plan and when the information was last updated (including plan changes)
    • internal links - hyperlinks are used to access cross-referenced objectives and policies or relevant provisions (e.g. definitions)
    • external links - providing links to documents incorporated by reference into RMA plans, for example design guidance
    • printing - text can be printed without the loss of formatting
    • copying - the ability to cut and paste discrete sections of text without the loss of formatting, or to download either the entire plan or specific parts of it
    • searching - the ability to search for specific words and terms and/or discrete sections or subsections
    • accessibility - the ability to read and use the plan across a range of computer platforms and hardware, without having to download special software.

Alternative options to the current practice of separating text from spatial information should also be explored (refer Action 4 - RMA maps). Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are powerful spatial tools that could be utilized to deliver plan information and integrate that information with other development related information. Several councils currently provide excellent GIS or other mapping services online, including district or regional zoning maps, but these are often not directly linked to online RMA planning documents. In future interactive maps are likely to become a standard feature of online council websites. 

How to implement this action

The easiest way to display plans is in a PDF format, keeping the file size as small as possible. This can be done by:

  • breaking up the plan into chapters with file sizes less than 1MB
  • using an HTML page as a table of contents with a set of links to related PDFs. Using an HTML contents page is an easy way to enhance the ability to search within the plan.
  • ensuring files open up at a readable size (i.e. 50 per cent or greater)
  • ensuring best use is made of the features available on Adobe Acrobat, including indexing.

A more advanced and preferred method is a database-driven HTML page. This has significant advantages for plan usability as it allows for enhanced search capability.

Action 4 -Maps in RMA planning documents can be accessed online

Objective

The public is able to access and use up-to-date online maps in RMA planning documents.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide open and transparent access to the full range of RMA information.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries, and the time and money spent sending out hard copies of RMA planning maps.

Implementation issues

Planning maps form an integral part of an RMA plan, with the zoning and other related information displayed directing a user to relevant sections of a plan they need to refer to. However, the physical size (usually A3) and often detailed nature of map information can pose a challenge to effective online delivery, particularly where councils rely on a PDF format. Hard copy versions of planning maps typically have a legend on each page, or in a convenient location that is readily accessible to a user, and include a street index or other means of searching. As these are often created as separate documents when put online, this may result in a user having to open several PDF files at once to identify a site and its associated zoning.

Providing an effective link between the planning maps and the plan text can also present difficulties. Generally there are no established links between the zoning information shown on council GIS mapping systems and the associated objectives, policies and rules in the corresponding RMA plan.

Practical issues to consider when making planning maps available online include:

  • whether a user can see the map legend when viewing a map
  • how to index/arrange the maps (e.g. an individual map can be selected by clicking on a master map for the whole district or region)
  • whether street names are legible, or can be zoomed in on
  • whether searching by street name or property address is provided
  • whether the colours used to differentiate zones are clearly distinguishable on screen
  • how areas that are subject to a proposed plan change are to be identified and displayed
  • ease of navigation between adjoining maps
  • whether printing is possible without loss of formatting
  • the ability to read and use the plan maps across a range of computer platforms and hardware, without having to download special software
  • the file size of the maps and the ability for users to download files through a dial up connection (preferably less than 1MB).

How to implement this action

Planning maps can be put online in HTML format featuring the bullet points set out above.

A more advanced approach is to also include the ability to click on a symbol on a planning map (e.g. a heritage building) and be taken to a schedule that provides relevant information relating to that symbol.

Action 5 - Iwi and hapu RMA documents and contact details are available online

Objective

To provide the public with access to relevant iwi and hapū contact information and any iwi planning documents lodged with the council.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide access to planning documents recognised by iwi authorities under the RMA.
  • To assist consultation with iwi and hapu.

Implementation issues

Collecting and maintaining specific information relating to iwi and hapū is a requirement under s35A of the RMA and includes:

  • the contact details of every iwi authority within a region or district, and any groups within the region or district that represent hapu for the purposes of the Act. This includes details of relevant entities contained in Te Kahui Mangai, the national directory of iwi and Maori organisations maintained by Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Affairs)
  • any planning documents that are recognised by an iwi authority and have been lodged with a council (e.g. iwi management plans)
  • any area of the region or district over which one or more iwi or hapu exercise kaitiakitanga.

In addition to this required information it would also be useful to include online any Memorandum of Agreement, Memorandum of Understanding or Charter of Understanding that has been entered into between the council and an iwi.

An indication of the date when these records were last updated should also be provided.

How to implement this action

The simplest way of implementing this criterion is to:

  • provide a link to the Te Kahui Mangai web page
  • include any agreements online (e.g. a memorandum of understanding)
  • provide links to any iwi management plans that are available online
  • include contact details with other relevant guidance material (e.g. iwi management plans).

Action 6 - RMA related committee papers, minutes of proceeding and schedules of council meetings can be viewed online

 Objectives

To promote public access to RMA processes by making all relevant meeting papers, minutes and schedules of forthcoming council committees available online.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide open and transparent access to a full range of RMA information.
  • To make information more accessible to customers.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.

Implementation issues

Information can be made available through an online calendar or schedule. These schedules should:

  • include information about upcoming RMA consent hearings and policy committee meetings
  • be published regularly (e.g. weekly)
  • enable users to easily look up the date of the next meeting
  • enable users to identify how current the information is and/or where the last update can be viewed.

How to implement this action

Notice of upcoming council meetings is usually required to be publicly advertised under the Local Government Act. Often the newspaper is the primary means of notification. Providing similar notice of RMA consent and policy hearings on the resource management section of the council website, with links to relevant documents, would also meet the objectives of this action. Archive and search facilities will be required to provide access to previous agendas, reports and decisions.

Action 7 - RMA fee schedule is available online

Objective

To enable online public access to current fee schedules for RMA related applications. This should include, where relevant, an explanation of any variable charges.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide the public with open and transparent information about the costs of RMA services.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries, and the amount of time qualified RMA practitioners spend providing basic information.

Implementation issues

The information provided should include:

  • a list of all application fees including monitoring charges
  • an explanation of any variable charges (e.g. where an initial deposit is paid and any subsequent charges beyond those covered by the deposit are charged at an hourly rate).

Where variable charges apply, the council should provide guidance to help users estimate the cost of different types of applications (ie, indicate the range of costs, including median and upper costs, and could include an online fee calculator).

How to implement this action

PDF is often the best option due to the static nature of a fee schedule, and the ease of use and security of conveying static information. However, HTML and XML offer more potential to include interactive features such as calculators for variable charges. 

Action 8 - RMA forms can be downloaded

Objective

To make all commonly used RMA forms (Resource Management (forms, Fees and Procedure) Regulations 2003) available online so they can be readily downloaded and printed.

Why is this action important?

  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.
  • To reduce the amount of time qualified RMA practitioners spend providing basic advice.

Implementation issues

Providing RMA forms online that can be printed is a good basis to start from. However forms that can be completed online and then printed or submitted electronically offer added value to the public.

Supplying online RMA forms in a downloadable format could extend to include:

  • standard RMA forms available from the Ministry for the Environment website
  • links to relevant council guidance or material on the Ministry for Environment or Quality Planning websites.
  • Things to consider when placing forms online include:
    • where the forms are located on the website (eg, separately or with all other council forms)
    • the relative download speeds of broadband and dial-up and the size of the file
    • whether the form can be submitted without a signature
    • the usability of the forms.

 How to implement this action

Where a council has prepared its own forms, these should be provided on its website in a static format such as PDF. Additional features can include the ability to fill in the forms online, and to either print them or submit them electronically. Alternatively, links could be provided to the standard RMA forms prepared by the Ministry for the Environment.

Action 9 - Publicly notified resource consent applications, notices of requirement and proposed plan changes/variations can be viewed online

Objective

To enable the public to view online all publicly notified resource management applications.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide greater access to RMA processes that invite public comment.
  • To improve existing consultation practices and processes.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.
  • To reduce the amount of time qualified RMA practitioners spend providing basic advice.

Implementation issues

Councils should ideally provide online access to the following information for all RMA applications that are publicly notified:

  • the notice of the application (in accordance with the prescribed form set out in Schedule 1 of Resource Management (Forms, Fees and Procedures) Regulations 2003), designation, variation or plan change, including the closing date for submissions (Note: the internet version of a public notice is legally part of the public notice and so should be accurate in all its details)
  • a full copy of all the material lodged, including drawings and attachments (Note: the size of some of these files may deter easy access)
  • the information should also include all applications in the Council's area that have been:
    • lodged directly with the EPA
    • directly referred to the Environment Court
    • subject of a direction by the Minister for the Environment (i.e. proposals of national significance)

When a plan change or variation is notified the online version of the plan should also be amended to identify the relevant provisions affected.

A more advanced option could include the ability to write and lodge a submission online on a notified application (refer Action 10). A facility allowing people to register and receive automatic updates through email at key processing milestones could also be considered.

How to implement this action

Council's need to build the use of the internet into their notification processes. When public notices are arranged for the newspaper, they should also be included on the council website. The simplest means is to use PDF as a delivery method so:

  • users can easily print the information
  • information cannot be altered
  • links to other documents or features (e.g. submission forms) can be provided.

Other options include having an HTML contents page with links to associated PDF's or a database-driven HTML page.

Action 10 - Submissions can be prepared and lodged online

Objective

To enable the public to prepare and lodge online electronic submissions for all publicly notified resource consent applications, designations, plan changes and any other RMA related matters being consulted on.

Why is this action important?

  • To make it easier for the public to be involved in resource management processes.
  • To provide an improved service by removing postal delays.
  • To give submitters a choice of how they lodge submissions with the council.
  • To enable data to be transferred automatically to the back-end system.
  • To reduce manual entry of data and scanning of documents.

Implementation issues

The effectiveness of any online submissions facility is largely dependent on its usability. Issues that should be considered include:

  • creating an electronic submission form that can be submitted to council through their website
  • the capacity of the council's systems to accept electronic submissions, including attachments
  • the ability to electronically lodge further submissions on plan changes, including information on the restrictions on who can make further submissions
  • providing email updates on the progress of submissions, including the availability of a summary of submissions
  • providing an electronic acknowledgement of submissions received.

How to implement this action

The simplest option is to use HTML to create a web page with forms that can be completed and submitted to the council online. The submission can then be forwarded to the processing officer. A more advanced approach would see the submission details inserted into a table format for inclusion in the processing officer's report.

Action 11 - Current appeals to the Environment Court can be viewed online

Objective

To enable the public to view online all current appeals to the Environment Court relating to council decisions on resource consents, notices of requirement, policy statements, plans and proposed plan changes/variations.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide open and transparent access to a full range of RMA information.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.

Implementation issues

The delivery of this action could include:

  • appeals lodged to proposed policy statements, plans, variations and plan changes, including their status
  • appeals lodged to consent applications and/or conditions of consent, including their status
  • key dates (e.g. lodgement dates, hearing fixtures).
  • details of those resource consent applications that have been directly referred to the Environment Court.

How to implement this action

Include a list of all matters currently before the Environment Court on the council website. Because this list will generally be short the simplest delivery method is a static list. This could be provided in either an HTML or PDF format, but it is important that the information is kept up to date. Another way to keep the public informed is through regular email updates.

Action 12 - The status and decision notice of all resource consent applications can be located and viewed online

Objective

To enable people to search for resource consent applications relating to their district or region and to determine whether a consent has been granted and what, if any, conditions have been imposed.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide open and transparent access to a full range of RMA information.
  • To allow for community involvement and participation.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.

Implementation issues

Councils should nominate a date when consent information will be made available online and also indicate whether previous records can be accessed (e.g. consents for the past 2 years). This action can be provided for by either:

  • posting the information on the internet in the form of a regularly updated database, or
  • enabling data to transfer directly from the back office system.

Basic delivery of this option would consist of:

  • a searchable register of resource consents
  • a number of search fields such as consent holder, location and category.

A searchable register of decisions could also be provided that includes:

  • the date of the decision
  • the location of the site
  • the application number
  • a description of the activity
  • the full notice of decision in accordance with s113 of the RMA.
  • In future, interactive maps could assist users to more easily search for consent related information. A good online archive and search system would also be required.

How to implement this action

Although basic information can be provided by a static list in a PDF document, this may be of limited use for councils that are processing a large volume of consents. Optimum usability would be provided through an online database that allows users to search by street address or consent number.

Action 13 - Statutory applications can be lodged online

Objective

To enable the public to submit RMA applications online, including supporting documentation.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide applicants with the choice of submitting applications electronically.
  • To enable data to transfer automatically to the back-end system.
  • To reduce manual entry of data and scanning of documents.
  • To improve the quality and completeness of RMA applications.
  • To increase the speed of the process.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.

Implementation issues

This action would provide the public with the ability to lodge any RMA application online, but is likely to be used most often for resource consent applications. E-lodgement could be extended to include: 

  • notices of requirement
  • alterations to designations
  • outline plans
  • private plan changes.
  • requests for direct referral.

The initial focus should be on relatively simple or common applications. Issues to consider include:

  • attaching supporting electronic documents and reports to an application
  • providing a registration system to identify an application and to allow its progress to be tracked
  • electronic acknowledgement of an application
  • managing requests for further information
  • paying lodgement fees by credit card

To implement this action, application forms must be able to:

  • be downloaded and/or completed online
  • be submitted electronically
  • take into account requirements to lodge both written and graphic material.

How to implement this action

Council's can use the ready made Go-Forms developed by Local Government Online for a cost. These forms can be tailored to allow individual council logos and contact details to be included.

Council's could also develop their own system for accepting applications electronically, based on their existing application forms. These could be altered to allow them to be completed online. A further extension of this would be provision for supporting documents to be electronically attached to an online application and facility for lodgement fees to be paid online by credit card.

Action 14 - Applicants can monitor the progress of their statutory applications online

Objective

To enable applicants to track the progress of their statutory applications from lodgement to determination.

Why is this action important?

  • To advise applicants on the progress of their application.
  • To provide open and transparent access to a full range of information.
  • To make services and information more accessible to customers.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries.

Implementation issues

This is an advancement on Action 13 (lodging an application online) and involves the provision of further information to an applicant such as:

  • an automatic update on key processing milestones where this has been requested
  • any requests for further information
  • processing costs to date
  • the due date for the notice of decision
  • contact details of the processing officer.

This information could be provided in a static form (e.g. by email update). Alternatively, a more advanced integrated system linked to the 'back office system' could be used which would allow the details of each individual application to be updated in a database as the consent is processed, and for these to be viewed online by the applicant.

How to implement this action

While email updates are relatively straightforward, a more sophisticated system could be created using an HTML front page driven by a computer database behind the scenes.

Action 15 - Council RMA monitoring records can be viewed online

Objective

To provide RMA monitoring records online.

Why is this action important?

  • To provide open and transparent access to a full range of RMA information
  • To make information and services more accessible to customers
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries

Implementation issues

This action allows the public to view environmental monitoring information about the region, district or city online. It includes the ability to access online information relating to:

  • the efficiency and effectiveness of policies, rules or other methods in policy statements and plans
  • compliance with resource consent conditions
  • the transfer or delegation of any functions, powers or duties
  • the exercise of recognised customary activities and any associated controls.

How to implement this action

Use HTML as the front page but insert monitoring data directly into an online database that will allow users to readily access up to date monitoring information.

Action 16 - State of the environment monitoring records can be viewed online

Objective

The public is able to access online state of the environment monitoring records compiled by councils.

Why is this action important?

  • To enable the public to access information on the state of the environment, including information on relevant changes or trends over time.

Implementation issues

Placing completed state of the environment reports online as PDF documents should be relatively straightforward. However, reports may need to be broken down into chapters to ensure the file size is manageable.

State of the environment reports can be large, technical documents. Providing an additional one to two page non-technical summary of these reports online can help make the information accessible to a wider audience.

Where reports have been prepared on a similar topic area over time (e.g. water quality) the full time series of records should be made available on the council's website. The website could also be used to alert users to the availability of new monitoring data or reports.

How to implement this action

Place all state of the environment reports on the council website. These could be included in the resource management 'portal' referred to in Action 1.

Action 17 - Authoritativeness of online RMA information

Objective

An overriding principle applicable to every e-RMA action is that all online information relating to the RMA is reliable, up to date, consistent and clearly indicated as such.

Why is this action important?

  • To ensure the public has confidence that the RMA information they are viewing online is trustworthy, consistent, up to date and reliable.
  • To avoid confusion arising from inaccurate or out of date information being presented.
  • To reduce the number of front office, telephone and email queries regarding the status of RMA planning documents and applications.

Implementation issues

Information on websites changes regularly. It is important that RMA information remains accurate and up to date, so the public can confidently rely on the information contained on the website. This includes links from a council website to external sites that may provide additional planning guidance.

As more councils move to prepare combined planning documents it will be important that the regional policy statement provisions are clearly identified. Many councils have both operative and proposed versions of their RMA plan online.  At the same time, numerous plan changes may be in process.  This can cause confusion for online plan users, particularly concerning the particular provisions of each plan they need to refer to, the relative weight that applies to each, and what rules have legal effect.  It is important that the different versions are accurately described, and that plan users are aware of which document to use or that certain provisions may change following submissions or appeals. The provisions should clearly identify when proposed rules have legal effect.

Similarly, notified consent applications, or any process that is no longer open to public comment or submission, should be clearly identified online as having 'closed' for public comment.

Ensuring guidance and information is updated following any amendments to the RMA is important.

Website users are best placed to identify or question the authoritativeness of a particular web page. Some councils provide a feedback option on each page to allow comments to be submitted.

How to implement this action

  • Review all RMA related website content on a regular basis to ensure it is up to date and accurate - include links to external sites, to ensure they are working and that information is being maintained.
  • Undertake a specific review of RMA website content following any amendments to the RMA.
  • Build an online notification component into public notification processes (e.g. resource consents and plan changes).
  • Clearly identify the regional policy statement provisions in a combined planning document.
  • Clearly state the status of the online plan, and for partially operative online plans highlight/identify any text subject to challenge - this may be provided in a separate section.
  • Clearly identify plan changes, including text subject to submissions/appeal.
  • Clearly identify when proposed rules have legal effect.
  • Provide a feedback section on each web page for user comments.

Self Assessment Template: e-RMA actions

The following template contains a range of actions councils can use to assess their current e-RMA performance. They are not intended to act as absolute standards but as targets that councils can incrementally move towards in developing an e-RMA administration system.

Some of the outcomes that an e-RMA system seeks to achieve are:

Customer service

Providing faster, more convenient and higher quality RMA information and services to the public.

Back office improvements

  • Increasing workplace efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Reducing system administration and public queries, including freeing resources for higher value planning work.
  • Reducing workplace stress.

Linking up/partnerships

Ensuring that:

  • e-RMA is integrated into a coherent corporate approach to online delivery of services
  • investment in technology is minimised
  • duplication in other service areas is avoided.

e-RMA actions

The following "score" can be applied to each of the identified performance measures in the assessment template.

Minimum

 

Progressing

 

Excellent

 

Self - Assessment

No.

Action

Performance measure

Score

1

RMA information and services are located and accessed from the council home page

Minimum - Two clicks from the council home page to either RMA plan or resource consent related information (e.g. <services><planning>), but the information is held in separate areas.

Progressing - One click from the council home page to a specific resource management area, but all relevant information may not be held in this area.

Excellent - A dedicated page (portal) for all council RMA related information and services (consents and plans) that is directly accessible (one click) from the council home page.

 

2

Online RMA guidance is available

Minimum - Advice on RMA processes (e.g. applying for a resource consent) is available online with external links to national advice.

Progressing - General district-wide guidance/advice (e.g. through FAQs) and general planning advice is available online.

Excellent - Site-specific guidance/advice is available online. Users can identify a property and an activity and receive guidance on specific RMA consent requirements.

 

3

Text of RMA policies and plans can be accessed online

Minimum - Text of RMA policies and plans is available online in PDF format with all of the following features:

  • the status of the policy or plan (proposed, operative or under appeal) is clearly identified either on the council website, the cover of the document, on each page or somewhere apparent
  • the legal effect of proposed rules is clearly identified
  • the text is broken up into labelled sections with file sizes less than 1MB
  • the text makes use of the Adobe index
  • files open up at 50 percent viewing size or greater
  • file information can be copied and pasted (i.e. they have been written using Adobe Acrobat reader, not scanned in).

Progressing - Text of RMA policies and plans is online in HTML format with all of the following features:

  • the status of the policy or plan (proposed, operative or under appeal) is clearly identified either on the council website, the cover of the document, on each page, or somewhere apparent
  • the legal effect of proposed rules is clearly identified
  • internal links are embedded within the text to defined terms and to cross referenced objectives, polices, rules and other methods
  • every page has a visible index that provides a link back to the central index page and a link to view the associated planning maps.

Excellent - As with progressing but including:

  • external links to documents incorporated by reference (e.g. design guidance), or
  • ability to search the plan text for chosen terms, or
  • the ability to identify the physical address and any proposed activity for a particular site and to obtain a breakdown of the relevant planning provisions relating to a proposal.
 

4

Maps in RMA planning documents can be accessed online

Minimum - RMA planning maps are available online in PDF format with all of the following features:

  • each PDF planning map is clearly labelled with file sizes less than 1MB
  • PDF files open up at 50% viewing size or greater
  • each individual PDF map has a legend or a legend is clearly identified as a separate document
  • the maps are clearly indexed or displayed using a district/region wide 'master map'.

Progressing - RMA planning maps are available online in HTML format with all of the following features:

  • a legend is visible from each individual map
  • an individual map can be identified by clicking on an 'index ' or 'master ' map
  • street names are legible or can be zoomed in on
  • a scale is visible (and automatically adjusts when zooming in or out)
  • a map can be printed without loss of formatting (a printer friendly option).

Excellent - As with progressing but including either:

  • icons and symbols on the maps (e.g. a heritage icon, a designation number) hyperlink to relevant plan schedules or tables, or
  • the ability to search for a site on the planning maps by street address or legal description.
 

5

Iwi and hapu RMA documents and contact details are available online

Minimum - Link to the Te Kahui Mangai website located within a resource management related web page.

Progressing - Links to the Te Kahui Mangai website located within a resource management related web page and any associated information/guidance on when consultation with local iwi may be required (including links to any signed memorandums of agreement or understanding).

Excellent - Links to the Te Kahui Mangai website, local iwi management plans and information on when consultation with local iwi may be required (including links to any signed memorandums of agreement or understanding) is located within a resource management related web page.

 

6

RMA-related committee papers, minutes of proceeding, and schedules of council meetings can be viewed online

Minimum - Planning policy and resource consent hearings committee meeting schedules, agendas and associated minutes are available online in static form and grouped in chronological order by Committee for the preceding year.

Excellent - Planning policy and resource consent hearings committee meeting schedules, agendas and minutes are available online in a searchable format that is linked to a database containing records for the preceding five years.

 

7

RMA fee schedule is available online

 

Minimum - Fee schedule is available online.

Excellent - Fee schedule is available online along with a clear explanation as to whether the charges are a fixed fee or a deposit only. May also include features such as fee calculator.

 

8

RMA forms can be downloaded

Minimum - All of the following commonly used RMA forms can be downloaded in PDF format and completed manually:

  • Resource consent application (Form 9)
  • Submission form (Form 13)
  • Affected party approval form.

Progressing - All of the above forms can be completed online and printed out ready for lodgement.

Excellent - All council produced RMA forms can be filled out online and submitted electronically, and guidance is provided to help users complete each section, (see Criterion 14 - all statutory applications can be lodged online).

 

9

Publicly notified resource consent applications, notices of requirement and proposed plan changes/variations can be viewed online

Minimum - Static list of all notified applications (i.e. resource consent applications, notices of requirement and proposed variations and plan changes), including the public notice (Forms 4 and 12).

Progressing - Static list of all notified applications (i.e. resource consent applications, notices of requirement and proposed variations and plan changes), including the public notice (Forms 4 and 12) and a link which enables the application to be viewed online or a copy of the application be requested.

Excellent - Searchable list of all notified applications (i.e. resource consent applications, notices of requirement and proposed variations and plan changes), including the public notice (Forms 4 and 12), a link which enables the application to either be viewed online or a copy to be requested, and a clear indication of what stage in the consent process the application is currently at (e.g. appeal period, hearing adjourned).

 

10

Submissions can be prepared and lodged online

Minimum - Submissions on publicly notified RMA processes can be prepared and lodged using an online form.

Excellent - Submissions on publicly notified RMA processes can be prepared and lodged online, automatically uploaded into the back office planning system and an automated confirmation receipt forwarded to the submitter.

 

11

Current appeals to the Environment Court can be viewed online

Minimum - Ability for users to view a static list of current appeals to council decisions that have been lodged with the Environment Court.

Excellent - Ability for users to view a static list of current appeals to council decisions that have been lodged with the Environment Court, including details of appellants, section 274 parties and the status of the appeal (e.g. in mediation).

 

12

The status and decision notice of all determined resource consents can be located and viewed online

Minimum - Access to a chronological list of consents that have been determined in the preceding calendar year, along with the consent number, address, description of the activity and the decision (e.g. granted/declined).

Excellent - Access to a searchable database that includes the status of all consents determined since the database was available, basic information on consents that have been granted and are still active and access to individual decision notices.

 

13

Statutory applications can be lodged online

Minimum - Applicants can submit RMA applications and associated documents (e.g. drawings, plans) and pay their application fee online.

Excellent - Users can submit RMA and regulatory service applications and pay associated fees online. These are automatically uploaded into the back office systems and the user sent an automated confirmation of receipt.

 

14

Applicants can monitor the progress of their statutory applications online

Minimum - The status of applications currently being processed is available online as a static list that is updated weekly. Applicants are advised in their acknowledgement letter how this list can be accessed.

Excellent - Applicants and the general public are able to monitor, through the council website, progress on consent processing, with information updated as each stage is completed.

 

15

Council RMA monitoring records can be viewed online

Minimum - Results of the review of the efficiency and effectiveness of policies, rules or other methods in a policy statement or plan is available online in a PDF format.

Excellent - Like minimum but with the further ability to access online monitoring records relating to resource consent applications that are still active, any functions, duties or powers that have been delegated and the exercise of any recognised customary activity and associated controls.

 

16

State of the Environment monitoring records can be viewed online

Minimum - State of the environment monitoring reports can be viewed online in a PDF format.

Excellent - State of the environment monitoring reports are available online along with relevant time series data and any recent updates of environmental performance (e.g. water quality).

 

17

Authoritative-ness of online RMA information

Minimum - An annual review of online RMA content for authoritativeness is carried out, including links to external websites. A complete review is undertaken immediately following any amendments to the RMA.

Excellent - In house processes developed to review online RMA content for authoritativeness on a monthly basis. A web page user is able to provide feedback on web content and/or usability.