About the resource management reforms

This page outlines why the Government is reforming the Resource Management Act 1991 and provides an overview of the reform initiatives.

Why we need resource management reform

The Government has indicated that it is committed to ensuring the RMA provides greater certainty for communities to plan for, and meet, their area’s needs in a way that reduces costs and delays. This is why resource management reform is one of Government’s key priorities. RMA reform is focused on taking away much of the uncertainty, time and cost from the RMA and creating a system that enables growth while ensuring important environmental standards are maintained.

Background to the reforms

The first phase of RMA reforms resulted in the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 and the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013.

The Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009:

  • streamlined and simplified the RMA
  • improved how councils process resource consents
  • set up a system that allows nationally significant consent applications to be dealt with more quickly.

For more information see the:

The Government made further changes through the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 to:

  • improve the resource consent regime
  • create a streamlined process for Auckland's first unitary plan
  • set a six-month time limit for processing consents for medium-sized projects
  • create easier direct referral to the Environment Court for major regional projects
  • set up stronger requirements for councils to base their planning decisions on a robust and thorough evaluation of the benefits and costs.

Public consultation

A discussion document was released for public feedback during October–December 2010. It considered options for improvements to the resource management system for urban planning and infrastructure. The reports of the Minister for the Environment's Urban Technical Advisory Group and Infrastructure Technical Advisory Group formed the basis for developing the Building Competitive Cities discussion document.

In February 2013, the Government released a discussion document setting out further proposals on improving New Zealand's resource management system. 

These proposals have being considered and some are being progressed as part of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill in 2015.

For more information see the About the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 web page.