Government starts next stage of RMA reform

  • Amy Adams

Environment Minister Amy Adams will today kick-off the next stage of the Government’s plan to reform the Resource Management Act.

This afternoon, the Resource Management Amendment Bill 2012 will have its first reading in Parliament.

The Bill introduces a streamlined process for Auckland’s first unitary plan, a six-month time limit for processing consents for medium-sized projects and easier direct referral to the Environment Court for major regional projects.

The Bill also includes stronger requirements for councils to base their planning decisions on robust and thorough cost-benefit analysis, including assessing how jobs and employment will be affected.

“Councils will need to show they have understood and considered the impact of local employment and the economy while making major decisions under the Act,” Ms Adams says.

“Resource management decisions made at a local level can have far-reaching effects on economic growth and jobs. It is important that councils are presented with all the information they need to make the right decisions, and that the public are fully informed about the choices their councils make.”

Further substantial reform of the RMA will continue during 2013, with details to be released early next year.

The 2013 reform is intended to address investment and community uncertainty, weak planning outcomes, and unnecessary costs and delays. The work programme will also incorporate freshwater reform, which will build on the recommendations from the Land and Water Forum (LAWF).

“LAWF’s work provides a solid foundation from which to progress the Government’s strategic direction for water management, with the support of a broad range of stakeholders.

“We have an opportunity to implement a significant water reform strategy to maximise opportunities and address problems with the current system.

“RMA and freshwater reform are a key part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. We need a system that enables growth, provides good environmental outcomes and can adapt to changing values, pressures and technology.

“New Zealand is richly blessed with natural resources. The Government’s reform package is about ensuring we manage our resources more effectively and efficiently to deliver both economic and environmental benefits for future generations, and recognising the key role of the RMA as the framework under which planning decisions are made.”