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Canterbury Regional Council facts for kids

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Environment Canterbury
Canterbury Regional Council
Country: New Zealand
Position of Canterbury Region.png
Quick facts for kids
Regional Council
Name: Environment Canterbury
Chair: Margaret Bazley
Population: 600,100 (June 2016)
Land Area: 44,638 km²
Cities and Towns
Cities: Christchurch, Timaru
Towns: Kaikoura, Ashburton, Leeston, Rolleston, Fairlie, Temuka, Methven, Rakaia, Geraldine, Rangiora, Oxford, Kaiapoi, Darfield, Hamner Springs, Akaroa, Springfield, Pleasant Point, Mayfield, Cheviot, Waimate, Twizel
Constituent Territorial Authorities
Names: Christchurch
Hurunui District
Kaikoura District
Ashburton District
Timaru District
Mackenzie District
Selwyn District
Waimate District
Waimakariri District
Waitaki District (part)

Canterbury Regional Council is the regional council for Canterbury, the largest region in the South Island of New Zealand. It is part of New Zealand's structure of local government. It uses the promotional name Environment Canterbury, frequently abbreviated to ECan.

Geographic coverage and responsibilities

Environment Canterbury Logo
The Environment Canterbury logo

The area of its jurisdiction consists of all the river catchments on the east coast of the South Island from the Clarence River, north of Kaikoura, to the Waitaki River, in South Canterbury. The region includes the Canterbury Plains, north and south Canterbury, the major braided rivers of the South Island, (the Waimakariri River, the Rakaia River and the Rangitata River) the Mackenzie Basin and the Waitaki River.

The Canterbury Regional Council is responsible for a wide variety of functions including public passenger transport, regional biosecurity, river engineering, environmental monitoring and investigations, regional policy and planning and for considering applications for certain resource consents - land use consents (including beds of waterbodies), coastal permits, water permits, and discharge permits. Canterbury Regional Council has strategic responsibilities for air, water and transport.

Christchurch often has temperature inversions which trap pollutants causing air quality issues. Ecan set up the Clean Heat Project in 2002 and it ran until 2011 to assist with cleaner burning home heating and extra home insulation.


The Canterbury Regional Council's spiritual predecessor was the Canterbury United Council that was formed in 1979, which was the first regional government body in New Zealand since the end of the provinces in 1876. However this united council was replaced by the current regional council in 1988 after local government reforms.

Regional Plans and Water Conservation Orders

Canterbury has the following 'operative' regional plans.

  • The Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP)

The Natural Resources Regional Plan (PNRRP) proceeded in two stages. Chapters 1 to 3 (Overview, Ngai Tahu and Air Quality) were publicly notified in June 2002. Chapters 4-8 were publicly notified in July 2004. Chapters 1 to 3 were decided on in September 2007 and some aspects of this large and detailed plan were appealed to the Environment Court. Hearings into Chapters 4-8 started in late 2007 and continued throughout 2008. The Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan chapters on Ngai Tahu and natural resources, air quality, water quality, water quantity, beds of lakes and rivers, wetlands and soil conservation were operative from 11 June 2011, replacing the older Canterbury Regional Council Transitional Regional Plan (October 1991), which was a collection of rules and bylaws predating the Resource Management Act 1991, and was the operative plan for most of the region, except the Waitaki catchment and the Kaikoura area.

There are also four Water Conservation Orders (WCOs) that apply in Canterbury: the Rakaia River WCO, the Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) WCO, the Rangitata WCO and the Ahuriri River WCO.

Resource consents

Canterbury Regional Council Consent Applications Backlog
Consents Backlog to 30 June 2011.

Canterbury Regional Council issues and supervises the most resource consents under the Resource Management Act 1991 of any of the 16 regional councils in New Zealand. In the year ended 30 June 2006, Environment Canterbury processed 3,381 applications, more than double the number processed by any other consent authority (Environment Waikato had the next highest number; 1,384 applications in 2006). By January 2005, Canterbury Regional Council had issued over 14,000 resource consents. The conditions of individual consents can be viewed on line by using the six-digit "CRC" number.

In October 2004, Canterbury Regional Council had a 'backlog' of unprocessed applications due largely to the notification of applications to take groundwater in highly allocated groundwater zones.

The 'backlog' or number of applications for consents being processed, is recorded daily on the Environment Canterbury web site. An upward trend appears to have ended in the middle of 2008, with numbers unprocessed slowly declining into 2009. The sharp increase in applications in June 2007 was due to the review of 400 existing resource consents in the Rakaia-Selwyn groundwater allocation zone.


Canterbury Regional Council received the lowest rating given by rural ratepayers in a Federated Farmers survey on local authorities. The grade took into account the council's level of approachability, degree of bias, provision of roads, value for money, and implementation of the RMA.

In October 2009 the Government announced a review of ECan under Section 24A of the Resource Management Act. The reason cited was that a delay in processing resource consents "is holding the Canterbury region back". In March 2010, after the release of the "Creech Report" the government chose to appoint a panel of commissioners to replace the elected Councillors, as described above.

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