RMA law promotes healthy waterways

A law that makes crucial environmental improvements to the RMA, particularly for freshwater, has passed its third and final reading today.  

“Achieving this step in the Government’s approach to reforming New Zealand’s resource management system is a significant milestone,” Environment Minister David Parker said. 

“The Resource Management Amendment Bill reduces complexity, increase certainty in the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and makes significant improvements to environmental outcomes.” 

It supports the Government’s Essential Freshwater package with an accelerated process for regional freshwater plan changes that will implement the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.  

The Bill also introduces mandatory and enforceable farm environment plans and requires fertiliser sales to be reported on a regional basis. 

On climate change mitigation, this Bill aligns the RMA and the Zero Carbon Act by requiring RMA decision-makers to consider the emissions reduction plans and national adaptation plans that must be published under the ZCA. These amendments allow local authorities to consider greenhouse gas emissions in their plan-making and consenting once national direction on climate change mitigation is promulgated.  

“These changes ensure that the key pieces of legislation protecting our environment support one another,” David Parker said. 

The Bill will restore public participation opportunities and will also ensure those who pollute the environment are held to account by increasing infringement fees, increasing timeframes for councils to file prosecution charges, and by giving the EPA new enforcement powers. 

“A more comprehensive review of the RMA will follow, and I look forward to receiving the RMA Review Panel’s report at the end of this month. The Government called for this comprehensive review because the existing RMA takes too long, costs too much and has not adequately protected the environment.”