Natural Resources Plan

The proposed Natural Resources Plan for the Taranaki replaces and integrates the Regional Policy Statement and three regional plans for managing soil, discharges to land, freshwater and air.


Our environment including its natural and physical resources are precious and need to be carefully managed. The Council’s mission is to promote the sustainable use, development and protection of our natural and physical resources and to help us achieve that we’re developing the Natural Resources Plan for Taranaki.

The Natural Resources Plan (the Plan) will combine all the Council’s planning tools (except for the coastal plan) in one simplified planning document that will achieve the following:

  • Set out the strategic framework for integrated management;
  • Set out the rules air, freshwater and land rules for which activities need a resource consent, are not allowed (prohibited) or are allowed without a resource consent (permitted);
  • Set out the policies that provide direction in relation to the rules.

The Plan would replace a number of existing statutory documents the Council uses for managing natural resources including the Regional Policy Statement(external link), the Regional Freshwater Plan(external link), the Regional Air Plan(external link) and the Regional Soil Plan(external link). These are all being reviewed as part of the process to introduce the Plan.

The Council is currently in the early engagement and drafting stages of the Plan. See below for a timeline for the process.

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions below or get in touch with Council at

Natural Resources Plan timeline

Frequently Asked Questions

What will be included in the Natural Resources Plan?

The Natural Resources Plan will contain the Regional Policy Statement, all of the rules relating to the air, freshwater, and soil plans and all of the policy direction and supporting material in order for consents to be processed.  The Natural Resources Plan will be set out in the following structure:

Part 1: Background and context
Part 2: Regional Policy Statement
Part 3: Regional Plan
Part 4: Monitoring the effectiveness of the NRP
Part 5: Appendices and Schedules

The Natural Resources Plan will also have associated mapping which will support the implementation of the plan and identify scheduled values as well as management areas.

The Plan will be prepared in ePlan format with cross referencing between provisions and mapping layers.

What is the difference between a Regional Policy Statement and a Regional Plan?

The purpose of a regional policy statement differs from that of a regional plan.

A regional plan is the ‘rule book’ for a particular environmental domain such as air or freshwater and contains all of the rules which either allow or prohibit people from undertaking activities that have an environmental effect on that domain.  Activities which are managed under these rules include discharges (including discharges of contaminants to water or to air), disturbances of rivers, streams and lakes, some structures and the maintenance of those structures (such as culverts, bridges, drains and protection structures), removal of vegetation, taking of water (for agricultural or household purposes).

A regional policy statement does not contain any rules. Instead the RPS has two core purposes:

  1. to set out the approach for integrated management; and
  2. to set out the higher decision making directions for resource management.

Integrated management involves ensuring that the approach to resource management is consistent across the region between district councils and regional councils.  It also involves considering the environment as a whole and not only by way of a single environmental domain (such as air, freshwater, coast or land).  Integrated management requires that decisions are made that consider effects on and recognise the whole of the environment, including people and communities.  As such, the regional policy statement requires consideration of a broad range of topics such as values and relationship of tangata whenua with the environment, urban development, historic heritage, infrastructure, transport, energy, climate change, hazards and more.

Higher decision making directions help decision makers (such as regional and district councillors, directors, managers and staff) navigate environmental issues to make decisions which reflect the environmental outcomes sought as well as communities expectations.  Where there are competing interests (such as the need to develop infrastructure to keep communities safe from hazards vs the need to protect significant existing environmental values) the regional policy statement should provide guidance to navigate those issues and arrive at a decision that is regionally acceptable given the overall objectives being set.

Together the regional policy statement and regional plans as well as the district plans provide a framework for managing human effects on the environment, monitoring the state of the environment as well as for responding to environmental issues and considering the operational options for addressing or managing those issues.

How can I be involved in the development of the Natural Resources Plan?

The Council will be undertaking engagement throughout the development of the Plan before a proposed plan is put forward for public submissions.  In the lead up to releasing a proposed plan the Council will be undertaking a range of targeted engagements well as public engagement streams focusing on different areas of interest. 

Targeted engagement will generally focus on tangata whenua, territorial authorities, other government agencies with overlapping roles and responsibilities, industry, community groups and non-government organisations.  Public engagement opportunities are likely to take the form of surveys, public opinion pieces, workshops and other feedback mechanisms as well as through the statutory Schedule 1 submission process.  The schedule 1 process ensures that anyone who has an interest in the Natural Resources Plan can make a formal submission to the Council and for that submission to be considered on its merits.

Opportunities for engagement will be made available on the TRC website, through the Councils social media platforms and through the Natural Resources Plan newsletters which are sent to people who have an interest in the development of the Plan .

If you would like to be notified of any engagement opportunities for the Natural Resources Plan and get updates on the progress being made please sign up to our mail list.  Updates are usually quarterly unless there are specific engagement opportunities available between updates.

Sign up to our mailing list <link required>

How does the development of the Natural Resources Plan fit within the wider policy landscape and changes to resource management, freshwater regulation

You may be aware of a number of things under development at a national level which relate to the way the country manages it natural resources.  There are many moving parts which can make planning for the future difficult and you may be wondering how the development of the Natural Resources Plan fits in with those work streams.  Some of these work streams include:

  • Resource management reforms and the development of a Strategic Planning Act and the Natural and Build Environments Act
  • Development of national policy statements and national environmental standards such as the essential freshwater package, air quality standards
  • Climate change or
  • The three waters reform.

While the Council has no direct control over these decisions, the outcome of these decisions will have an effect on how we manage things in the future.  For now the Council is keeping a close eye on what is occurring at a national level and will be aligning with that direction when it becomes available.  For the time being, the Council expects to progress the development of the Natural Resources Plan with the information and direction that is currently available.  While the lay of the land may change in the future, it is important that the Council continues this work in a timely manner in order to deliver on its statutory obligations.  If significant change is required by future decisions then there will be opportunities to align thinking at that point and with the benefit of having already undertaken, or being in the process of undertaking, comprehensive engagement and exploration of community expectations and aspirations.

How You Can Get Involved

To find out about engagement opportunities of to sign up to the ‘Peoples panel’ where you can provide feedback and ideas to make Taranaki a great place to live, work and play please go to the Have your say(external link) page.