Role of Regional Policy Statements and Plans

The importance of applying a co-ordinated and integrated approach to the management of land transport by local authorities is recognised in the following RMA provisions:

  • a function for regional councils: the strategic integration of infrastructure with land use through objectives, policies and methods (s30(1)(gb))
  • a definition of infrastructure that includes 'structures for transport on land by cycleways, rail, roads, walkways, or any other means' (s2(g))
  • a requirement that the triennial agreement entered into by local authorities under s15(1) of the Local Government Act has to include an agreement on the consultation process to be used to prepare, vary, change or review a policy statement (cl3A of Schedule 1).

These provisions clarify the role of regional councils in overseeing the integrated management of infrastructure and land use to achieve good resource management outcomes. The provisions recognise the close relationship between infrastructure (in its broadest sense) and land use. This creates a flow-on effect in terms of integrated planning for services and managing demand for new infrastructure particularly as a number of RPSs focus on the environmental effects of transport.

Regional policy statements

Land transport is a complex issue that is managed by several different agencies operating under various statutes. Under the RMA, regional policy statements (RPSs) play a key strategic role in land transport planning. As regional and district plans are required to 'give effect to' RPSs (refer ss67(3) and 75(3) of the RMA), their specific high-level objectives and policies will have a strong influence on the policy framework within these plans.

The role of RPSs in land transport is a rapidly evolving area and a number of regional councils are investigating the application of a more directive policy approach in these statements. This, in turn, will have a bearing on how land transport planning is integrated into regional and district plans.

Regional plans

The purpose of regional plans is to assist regional councils to fulfil their functions and achieve the purpose of the Act. Some regional plans may have little relevance to transport planning whereas others will contain provisions that impact on resource consents for land transport projects (e.g. such as those regional plans dealing with erosion and sediment control).

District plans

District plans establish a policy and regulatory framework for land use, subdivision and associated environmental effects. Land use planning decisions can assist (or frustrate) the implementation of strategic transportation measures.

In broad terms, land transport provisions in district plans should:

  • integrate land use and transport planning
  • allow for the development and management of integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transportation systems
  • give effect to the land transport provisions included in the relevant RPS
  • not be inconsistent with any relevant regional plan provisions
  • have regard to national and regional transport policies and plans prepared under the Land Transport Management Act
  • seek to address the environmental effects of land transport on land use and the effects of land use on land transport.
  • manage the effects of reverse sensitivity on the land transport network.