Review of RMA
Government launches comprehensive review of The Resource Management Act
Environment Minister David Parker has launched an "overhaul" of the Resource Management Act (RMA) to cut complexity and costs and better protect the environment.
The key issues to be addressed in a review of the RMA will include removing "unnecessary complexity", ensuring faster and more responsive land use planning, and ensuring Māori have more participation.
The overhaul will consider reducing the complexity of consenting processes, clarifying the meaning of iwi authority and hapū, and whether the RMA should align with the Green Party's Zero Carbon Bill if it passes.
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Also under consideration is whether part two of the RMA - the 'purpose and principles' section - should be a separate piece of law. It requires councils to consider objectives such as "the intrinsic values of ecosystems" when making any decision.
Cabinet has approved $7.9 million from Budget 2019, over four years, for the review.
"It is unacceptable for this cornerstone law to be underperforming in a country that values protection of the environment while properly housing its people," Parker said on Wednesday.
National's spokesperson for Housing and Urban Development, Judith Collins, said the review needs to "usher in meaningful changes that will break down barriers to getting things built in this country".
"The fact the Government has worked out it can't get its own KiwiBuild developments going without changing the rules shows just how bad it is for everyone else."
She said her main concern was that the Government had left the review too late in the electoral cycle, and said it suggests they aren't confident of getting the Greens and New Zealand First on board.
However, Collins said the RMA is "no longer fit for purpose" and said it "stops things from being done quickly".
"We are open to working with the Labour-led Government on this reform if it can present sensible solutions that will deliver New Zealand the infrastructure it needs."
This will involve a comprehensive review of the Resource Management Act 1991, including how it interacts with other relevant legislation including the Local Government Act (LGA), the Land Transport Management Act (LTMA) and the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act (once passed).
The Government's overall objective for the review is to "improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban development within environmental limits."
The Cabinet Paper outlining the various options for the review (including the Government's preferred option, the proposal launched today, and reasons for its selection).
What will be addressed by the review?
The review aims to address the following key issues:
· Unnecessary complexity of the RMA.
· Improving the quality of plans and the coherence and effectiveness of national direction.
· Clarifying the roles of central and local government.
· Strengthening environmental bottom lines.
· Further clarifying the role of Part 2, including consideration of whether Part 2 matters should remain within the RMA or sit in a separate piece of legislation.
· Recognising objectives for development (including housing and urban development).
· Ensuring that processes enable sufficient certainty for major infrastructure.
· Ensuring New Zealand's resource management system is sufficiently resilient to manage the risks posed by climate change, and that the RMA aligns with the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act (once passed).
· Urban tree protection.
· Enabling a new role for spatial planning across the RMA and the LGA and LTMA to provide better alignment of land use planning and regulation with infrastructure planning and funding.
· Ensuring that Māori have an appropriate role in the resource management system, including giving effect to Treaty of Waitangi settlements and clarifying the meaning of iwi authority and hapū.
What won't be addressed?
· Institutional reform is not anticipated but the review will include considering the roles of the various resource management institutions.
· Matters relating to the marine environment New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone.
· Existing Treaty settlements (except in terms of how any new resource management system will provide for them).
Who will undertake the review?
A new Resource Management Review Panel will be established to carry out the review. Retired Appeal Court Judge Hon Tony Randerson has been appointed as chair of the Panel, with Lesley Baddon heading the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) team. Other Panel members with skills in a wide range of resource management disciplines will be appointed.
Is there any opportunity for consultation?
Three phases of consultation are identified in the Cabinet Paper:
· Phase 1 is consultation with a "targeted group" including Māori. This group includes EDS, RMLA, NZPI, Forest & Bird, NZLS and the Farmers Leaders Group.
· Phase 2 will likely involve a wider group, including further sector and environmental groups, and iwi authorities.
· Phase 3 is public consultation which will begin following Cabinet consideration of proposals developed by the Panel.
There will be further opportunities for consultation once the Government has decided how it will give effect to the Panel's recommendations, which we expect will be through the introduction of one or more bills proposing amendments to the RMA and other relevant legislation.
Timeline for the review
· The Panel will produce an "issues and options" paper by the end of October 2019, which will be used to solicit public feedback.
· Feedback received from this paper will be considered by the Panel in preparing its final report.
· The Panel is due to provide a final report to the Minister by the end of May 2020.
· This report is to include detailed policy proposals and indicative drafting of key parts of any amendments or new legislation proposed. The Government will then use the report to determine the way forward for its resource management reform program in terms of more detailed policy, process and transitional matters.