Major reform of resource management system

  • Amy Adams

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today unveiled the next phase of the Government’s plan to revamp the resource management system.

Fundamentally, the reforms are about providing greater certainty for communities to plan for, and meet, their area’s needs in a way that reduces the unacceptable costs and delays that have become the norm.

“It must be remembered that the RMA is not just about environmental protection, it is also our planning law.

“It not only has to deal with managing water in our catchments and the quality of our air, it also needs to effectively deal with and provide for the functioning and development of our cities and towns, including public infrastructure like roads and schools. In this respect, the current planning system has not been serving us well.

“Instead of enabling a strong housing supply, it is slowing development where it is desperately needed.

“Rather than encouraging the creation of new business and jobs, it is discouraging them with uncertainty, bureaucracy and delays.

“It is essential that the resource management system is made clearer, more proactive and easier to use,” Ms Adams says.

Since 2008, the Government has made significant progress to the way the resource management system works, but there are still areas for improvement.

For this reason, the Government will make a number of improvements to the RMA across planning, consenting and the provision of national direction.

Some of the main changes are:

·         A requirement for councils to work together to develop a single plan, covering all the rules in their area

·         A new national planning template that sets out the structure and key content all councils must follow in the development of their resource management plans

·         New fast-track consenting rules and processes to improve timeframes for simpler consents

·         Enhanced provision for natural hazard management, learning the lessons from Canterbury

·         Requirements to better engage with local iwi in making planning decisions

·         Require councils to provide a minimum of 10-years of urban land supply to cope with projected population growth

·         Revise and consolidate the current sections 6&7 into a single list of matters of national importance

·         Establish a clearer performance-monitoring framework for councils, making them more accountable on how they are meeting environmental, cultural, social and economic needs

“Taken together, the changes will streamline and improve decision-making at every level.

“The RMA is now 22 years old. It was an innovative approach at the time, promising an enabling system that supported growth as long as core environmental bottom lines were met. Ever increasingly complexity has meant it has not lived up to its full promise.

“Today’s announcements will represent the most significant reform of the Act since its inception and are long over-due.”

For more information about the Government’s reforms, including a summary of the proposals, go to: