There are a number of important internal actions to follow to get the appropriate council resolutions before making a plan operative. Remember that this is a key procedural step and, at this late stage in the process, you do not want to overlook something that can later undermine the process. The actions include the following.
- Confirm where the internal delegation of authority to approve a plan sits. This is probably specified in your Council's delegation register or manual. Be aware that delegations may change from time to time (usually following local government elections) so it pays to recheck, especially if it's been a while since anything was made operative. While under section 34 (1) of the RMA a local authority can delegate anything to a committee of the council, including making plans operative, they can't delegate making a plan operative to anyone else, such as staff or commissioners.
- Identify when the next meeting of the appropriate committee and the following council meeting is going to occur, and arrange to have a report on the agenda to get the approval to make the plan operative. As part of this process, it may be necessary to brief the committee chair. It may have been some time since the committee or councillors saw the plan. This could be because appeals may have been before the Environment Court for some while and there may have been significant amendments made by the Court. It may also be that elections have resulted in changes to the composition of the committee and you have new councillors with little knowledge of the plan.
- Understand what it means to affix the council seal as required under clause 17 (3) of Schedule 1 of the RMA for a plan other than a regional coastal plan or clause 18 (2) for a regional coastal plan. In most councils, standing orders state that the seal can be fixed only with a resolution of the full council. You need to check your standing orders to confirm the process.
- Prepare a report seeking that the appropriate staff member be authorised to complete the statutory processes required to make the plan operative or operative in part. Identify variations to the plan or any plan changes still being processed and note that, under clause 17 of Schedule 1 of the RMA, any variation now has the status of a plan change and can continue in its own right.