Resource Management Act oversight unit to be established
A new unit will be established to oversee compliance with the Resource Management Act (RMA) and to improve consistency across councils, says Environment Minister David Parker.
“At present compliance, monitoring and enforcement actions are somewhat variable across councils,” says David Parker.
“The unit will improve the consistency, effectiveness and transparency of council enforcement of RMA rules and decisions.”
Under the RMA, local authorities are delegated responsibility for the everyday management of land, freshwater and other resources, and for ensuring that growth and development occurs within the environmental bottom lines of the RMA.
These responsibilities include making local plans and rules, and processing and deciding resource consent applications. Land use is mainly the responsibility of district and city councils, and freshwater use and quality that of regional councils.
Councils are responsible for compliance, monitoring and enforcement to improve the quality of our environment, and the Ministry for the Environment has stepped up its focus on this area.
“The establishment of the oversight unit will complement guidelines developed by councils to meet their responsibilities,” David Parker says.
Legislative reforms requested by councils, such as extending the limitation period for prosecutions from six months to 12 months, will be considered as part of the RMA reforms.
Operating funding of $3.1 million over four years has been allocated for the unit.
Other Environment initiatives in this year’s Budget are:
- $1.7 million over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 years for the Ministry for the Environment to lead the next phase in the all-of-government investigation into sites contaminated with per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), mainly from the use of fire-fighting foam. This will involve high-risk sites, including non-New Zealand Defence Force sites.
- A total of $8.0 million of new operating funding over the two years to 2020 for the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to continue managing the environmental effects of activities, such as offshore mining and drilling and space debris, in the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.