Changes to NZ’s resource management system

Friday 31 Jul 2020

The NZ Government has welcomed the most comprehensive review of New Zealand’s resource management system since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was passed in 1991. The report, New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand, was commissioned by Environment Minister David Parker and prepared by an independent review panel led by retired Court of Appeal Judge Tony Randerson QC after extensive consultation.

Among its recommendations is the replacement of the existing RMA by two separate pieces of legislation; a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act. Minister for the Environment, David Parker said a review of the resource management system was long overdue. “The RMA has doubled in size from its original length. It has become too costly, takes too long, and has not adequately protected the environment,” he said.

The Government had already made changes to the resource management system in the current three-year term to address issues that could not wait for the comprehensive review. “It is for the next Government to consider the report, and decide which aspects to adopt and decide whether to implement it in whole or in part.”

The review panel said the proposed new Natural and Built Environments Act (NBEA), taking a substantially different approach from the RMA, would focus on enhancing the quality of the environment, housing and achieving positive outcomes to support the wellbeing of present and future generations.

The proposed Strategic Planning Act would embed integrated spatial planning across all regions of New Zealand. It would set long term strategic goals and help integrate legislative functions across the resource management system including the proposed NBEA, the Local Government Act, the Land Transport Management Act and the Climate Change Response Act. This will allow a broad range of matters to be reconciled to ensure better future planning, including for infrastructure and housing.

It recommends greater use of national direction by the Environment Minister and a more streamlined process for council plan-making and a more efficient resource consent process. It also proposes a new separate law to address issues related to climate change adaptation and the managed retreat from areas threatened with inundation.

The full report is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website

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