RMA reform group announced

  • Nick Smith

Environment Minister Nick Smith today announced the appointment of the RMA Technical Advisory Group to support the Government's programme of reform of the Resource Management Act.

"Streamlining and simplifying the Resource Management Act is an important part of the new Government's programme. This advisory group will be tasked with assisting in the drafting of the reform bill to be introduced to Parliament in February," Dr Smith says.

"The Government wants to provide for more efficient decision making on infrastructure, reduce the costs and delays of consenting, speed up planning making processes, and restrict trade competition and vexatious and frivolous objections."

The advisory group will be chaired by barrister Alan Dormer and includes environmental consultant Guy Salmon, Rodney Mayor Penny Webster, barrister Paul Majuery, Tasman District Council Environment and Planning Manager Dennis Bush-King, barrister Michael Holm, planning consultant Michael Forster, and businessman and former Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Wyatt Creech.

The group has been formed as part of the National - ACT confidence and supply agreement.

Dr Smith says: "The functions of the group are to provide independent perspectives, analysis of reform proposals, act as a sounding board for any recommendations being made, and report to me."

The biographies of group members follow, along with the terms of reference for the group.

RMA Technical Advisory Group

Terms of Reference

Having regard to the following outcomes of the RMA review:

· raising New Zealand's rate of productivity and economic growth

· increasing the flexibility of the economy in order to facilitate adjustment and promote confidence and investment in response to the international economic crisis

· providing for sound environmental policies and practices

The technical advisory group is asked to:

· provide independent advice to Ministers on the implementation of the first phase of National's RMA reforms to facilitate the introduction of a reform bill by 26 February 2009 that seeks to:

o streamline and simplify processes

o provide priority consenting of major projects

o reduce costs and delays

o speed-up plan making processes

o restrict trade competition, vexatious and frivolous objections

· consider other amendments put forward by members of the technical advisory group, local government and of support parties, and advise on their suitability for inclusion in the reform bill

· provide advice on other non-legislative reforms that with assist the effective functioning of the RMA

· identify other RMA reforms that require longer term consideration and that should be considered as part of a second phase of reform

Technical Advisory Group (RMA)

Alan Dormer (chair of group)

Alan Dormer is a barrister from Auckland. He has been an independent commissioner on many resource consent hearings and has been an independent commissioner for a number of local authorities. Alan Dormer also has been appointed to several government reference and advisory groups in the past such as the Liquor Law Review Advisory Panel in 1996. Alan Dormer was President of the Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand 2005-2006. He was a member of the Peer Review Panel during the setting up of the RMA Making Good Decisions programme. He has been recognised by the NZ Planning Institute for his services to planning with the prestigious A O Glasse Award. Alan Dormer is currently a member of the Ministry for the Environment's Environmental Legal Assistance Advisory Panel and on the editorial panel for the annotated (Salmon) RMA.

Guy Salmon

Guy Salmon is Executive Director of the Ecologic Foundation, an environmental consultancy. He is a conservationist and co-founded the Native Forests Action Council in 1975 which campaigned for the protection of native forests. Guy Salmon has been involved in the development of the RMA. He was appointed to the Review Group which provided advice in 1991 on the Resource Management Bill. He has also served on the boards of Landcare Research and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and is a Trustee of the Cawthron Institute. He will bring a solid understanding of environmental issues to the technical advisory group.

Penny Webster

Penny Webster is the current mayor of Rodney District Council. Penny Webster is a member of the Rates Postponement Project Joint Committee. Penny Webster was a former ACT MP from 1999 to 2002. Penny Webster has a dairy farming background and is former president of the Auckland Federated Farmers. She will contribute an understanding of rural issues and local government to the advisory group.

Michael Foster

Michael Foster is independent planning consultant and director of ZoMac Planning Solutions Ltd. For 16 years, from 1985 to 2001, Michael was Director of Planning at Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner Ltd, consulting engineers and planners. He has over 25 years experience in planning and resource management issues and is extensive experience in major projects gaining consent under the RMA. Michael Foster is a past president of the New Zealand Planning Institute and the recipient of the distinguish service award from the NZPI. Michael will bring invaluable infrastructure project experience to the group.

Dennis Bush-King

Dennis Bush-King is the Environment and Planning Manager at Tasman District Council. Before working for Tasman District Council Dennis Bush-King was manager at the Ministry for the Environment and was the project manager of the Resource Management Law Reform that led to the Resource Management Act in 1991. He is part of the Local Government Regional Council Resource Managers Group. Dennis Bush-King has been on several reference groups including the Ministry for the Environment's reference group on aquaculture reform. He will contribute a detailed understanding of RMA and local government processes to the technical advisory group.

Rt Hon Wyatt Creech

Rt Hon Wyatt Creech is an experienced business man, with knowledge in farming, wine production, and accounting. He was elected to parliament in 1988. He held office for 15 years representing the Wairarapa and in that time held many senior portfolios for the National Government including Leader of the House and Deputy Prime Minister. Wyatt Creech is currently on the Board of Directors of the Open Country Cheese Company and is chairman of the Board of the Kaimai Cheese Company Ltd.

Paul Majurey

Paul Majurey appeared as Senior Counsel before local authorities, the Environment Court, Waitangi Tribunal and the Courts at all levels. He is a widely respected environmental law practitioner and understanding of tikanga Maori in the legal context. Paul has been a partner of Russell McVeagh since 1991. He has acted for Biomarine in securing the environmental approvals for New Zealand's largest oyster marine farm. He has also acted for Genesis Energy in successfully opposing appeal proceedings and acted for Unison Networks Limited in securing environmental approvals for the new 100MW Hawke's Bay Wind Project.

Mike Holm

Mike Holm is a barrister from Auckland practising in the environmental and public law areas. Mike has recently returned from China where he worked for a consortium providing advice to corporates wishing to enter into commercial relationships with the Chinese Government. Prior to spending time in China Mike was a partner at Russell McVeagh in Wellington and Auckland. Mike helped established the Environment Defence Society and worked for the Commission for the Environment in the 1980s. Mike chaired the 1997 Reference Group on the RMA set up by Hon Simon Upton.