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Resource Management Review Panel – Issues and options paper: some hefty questions to ponder over the summer break…

Home Insights Resource Management Review Panel – Issues and options paper: some hefty questions to ponder over the summer break…

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Contributed by: Allison Arthur-Young, Kristen Gunnell and Georgia Cameron

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Published on: November 18, 2019


The Resource Management Review Panel, led by former Court of Appeal Judge, Tony Randerson QC, recently released an issues and options paper in respect of its ongoing review of the RMA, which you can find here.  The Paper sets out the main issues to be addressed through the RMA reform process, provides initial ideas on how these may be addressed, and poses a number of questions for submitters and stakeholders to consider.  This process foreshadows a significant review and re-shape of New Zealand's resource management system and we would encourage anyone with interests affected by the RMA to consider engaging with the process.  Comments are due back to the Panel by 3 February 2020.

The Panel's large-scale review of New Zealand's resource management system is intended to review not only the RMA, but also interrelated legislation such as the Local Government Act 2002, Land Transport Management Act 2003 and Climate Change Response Act 2002.  The Panel's underlying goal of this comprehensive RMA reform is "to improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban and other development within environmental limits."

The scale of the inquiry is significant.  Arguably, nothing is off the table.  The issues listed below are illustrative of how wide-ranging the review could be.  The Paper breaks down what it sees as the key challenges facing the resource management system into 14 issues.

  • Legislative architecture
  • Purpose and principles of the RMA
  • Recognising Te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Ao Māori
  • Strategic integration across the resource management system
  • Addressing climate change and natural hazards
  • National direction
  • Policy and planning framework
  • Consents / approvals
  • Economic instruments
  • Allocation
  • System monitoring and oversight
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
  • Institutional roles and responsibilities
  • Reducing complexity across the system

The Panel is asking a range of questions, like:

– What role should spatial planning have in achieving better integrated planning at a national and regional level?

– Should the RMA be used as a tool to address climate change mitigation, and if so, how?

– Should there also be changes to the process for designations, the review or variation of consents and conditions, and even matters such as the role of certificates of compliance?

– Should there be a distinction in the approach taken to allocation of the right to take resources, the right to discharge to resources, and the right to occupy public space?

– How do we reduce undue complexity, improved accessibility and increase efficiency and effectiveness within the RMA?

The dual outcome approach – seeking better outcomes for the natural environment and urban / development – requires that the net be cast wide when considering how to achieve these outcomes, and in a rather compressed timeframe.  The Panel has until 31 May 2020 to provide its final report to the Minister for the Environment, which will include detailed policy proposals and indicative drafting of legislation for key provisions.  The Government has indicated it will consult further on the proposals once finalised, however, we anticipate there will not be too much further progress until after the election.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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