Commissioners And The Resource Management Act

  • Simon Upton

Environment Minister, Simon Upton, has announced that the Government will not require commissioners to hear all resource use applications under the Resource Management Act. Instead, it will give applicants and submitters the right to demand a hearing before a commissioner if they so choose. The party requesting the commissioner will be required to pay any additional costs that flow from the use of a commissioner.

"Having taken careful note of the weight of submissions and consulted the parliamentary parties with whom the Government co-operates, I have concluded that the optional approach is most likely to win parliamentary approval."

The right to have a hearing held in front of a commissioner instead of a committee of Councillors was one of two options canvassed in the Government's proposals for amendments to the RMA prior to Christmas. The alternative proposal would have made the use of hearings commissioners mandatory in every case.

Mr Upton said that he was still working on the drafting of an amendment bill but hoped it would be ready for introduction in 6 - 8 weeks. He was making an early announcement on the use of commissioners since the proposal had drawn more submissions than any other.

Mr Upton said he was determined to introduce a Bill that was workable and could satisfy the concerns of resource users and community groups.

"I am hopeful that the bill will be able to command widespread support from local government and those who work with the RMA."