The future of the Tasman Environment Plan – Aorere ki uta Aorere ki tai

Council's Strategy and Policy Committee in considering pending and potential changes to New Zealand’s environmental legislation has adopted a short-term workstream focus approach to maintain progress for 5-key Environmental Policy workstreams.

A reset of Tasman’s Environmental Policy has become necessary because of the recently passed legislation to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA), and the uncertain political climate.

Early to mid-2024 we should have a clearer way forward but in the meantime, the programme reset maintains momentum and ensures we avoid continuing with work that may have to be repeated in the future.

The short-term focus environmental workstreams are:

  • Urban growth - implementing the Nelson Tasman Future Development Strategy.
  • Natural Hazards – responding to hazards and climate change.
  • Freshwater – implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. See From the Mountains to the Sea.
  • Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Features – progressing a plan change to address a longstanding obligation.
  • Coastal – Port Tarakohe, marine ecological research, and implementing the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement within the above workstreams.

These workstreams will be progressed via changes to the existing Tasman Resource Management Plan through 2024 to 2025 and reviewed regularly to prioritise whether they remain the same or changes need to be made.

Work on policy outside of the short-term focus workstreams, will be paused until there is clarity on the future. However, there are projects that will continue alongside the focus workstreams, and they are:

  • Future Development Strategy implementation
  • Richmond & Mapua spatial plans
  • Deferred zoning
  • Existing plan changes (Wakefield and Motueka)
  • Tasman Resource Management Plan - E-Plan migration
  • Biodiversity preparatory work to implement the NPS-IB
  • Highly productive land preparatory work to implement the NPS-HPL

Background

In August, this year two new pieces of legislation were created, the Spatial Planning Act (SPA) and the Natural and Built Environment Act (NBEA). These two acts are part of a package of reforms that will replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

The three new acts are:

  • Spatial Planning Act (SPA)
  • Natural and Built Environment Act (NBEA)
  • Managed Retreat and Climate Change Adaption Act (CAA)

Plans

The new legislation introduces changes to the way plans are developed and decided on. The biggest change is reducing the number of plans in NZ from around eighty plans to fifteen. Currently, each district, city council, and regional council have their own plans. This will change so there is only one plan per region.

Single Plan

Tasman is a unitary council so our existing plan, the Tasman Resource Management Plan already combines the district and regional council responsibilities. However, the new legislation will require Tasman and Nelson to produce a single plan, with a greater role for iwi.

Importantly, the work to date on the TEP and the valuable contributions from everyone that has provided feedback will not be lost, it will be used for the new plan.

Before we can start on a new plan, we will be required to develop a new Regional Spatial Strategy across Nelson/Tasman. The strategy will build on, and replace, the current Nelson Tasman Future Development Strategy.

Timeline

We are currently working through how and when we might move to the new system that will replace the current RMA led system.

A minimum of ten years is the estimated time before a new plan can be notified given the requirement to complete the regional spatial strategy first. In the interim, the current Tasman Resource Management Plan and Nelson Resource Management Plan will continue to have legal effect, again for at least 10 years.

There are many things to consider before we decide on when and how to move from the current planning system to the new system, and the changes that might be needed to the existing plan in the meantime.

Readiness

With the support of the Ministry for the Environment we are working with Nelson City Council and local iwi to scope out our readiness to move to the new system and what would be needed to make the transition a success. That scoping exercise will be completed by the end of 2023.

Following the completion of the scoping exercise, the Minister for the Environment can invite our region to be a “first tranche region” or early adopter.

If that occurs the next step would be for the two councils and eight iwi to decide whether to accept the invitation. That would start the transition to the new system, with support from Government. Nelson-Tasman is one of two regions in New Zealand conducting a scoping exercise. The other is Taranaki.

Our environment matters

The result of the 2023 General election may lead to further changes to resource management legislation. Rather than wait and see, the work program outlined above will progress work on important environmental issues in Tasman while the inevitable post-election turmoil is worked through.

The topics identified above will be progressed via changes to the existing Tasman Resource Management Plan through 2024 to 2025.The requirement for a combined Nelson Tasman plan under the new legislation means the Tasman Environment Plan (TEP) won't be developed as a separate plan.Policy work on topics not listed here will be paused until we have more clarity on the future. There are also several existing projects that will continue along side the ones listed above. Those projects include:

  • Future Development Strategy implementation
  • Richmond & Mapua spatial plans
  • Deferred zoning
  • Existing plan changes (Wakefield and Motueka)
  • Tasman Resource Management Plan - E-Plan migration
  • Biodiversity preparatory work to implement the NPS-IB
  • Highly productive land preparatory work to implement the NPS-HPL

We are working with Nelson City Council and local iwi to plan for how and when we will move to the new system that replaces the RMA. We should have a clear way forward early to mid-2024.



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