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Improving our resource management system

The Government is overhauling our resource management system, focusing on the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) – the primary legislation governing the use of our land, water and air resources. 

The Government wants the RMA to support a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. It also wants the RMA to be easier for New Zealanders to understand and engage with. The Government is approaching this in two stages. 

Stage one: Amending the RMA 

The Government is proposing several specific changes to the RMA through an amendment bill. The aim of the bill is to make the RMA less complex, give people more certainty on RMA issues, and increase opportunities for public participation.

The bill will address issues with resource consenting, enforcement and Environment Court provisions within the RMA. It may also include some other policy proposals. 

The bill is currently being drafted and we are working to introduce it to Parliament later this year. Public submissions will be called for when the bill is referred to a select committee.

The following documents have information on the policy proposals that will be in the bill. This list will be updated as more information about the bill becomes available.

Stage two: A comprehensive review

The Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of the resource management system. This review will examine the broader and deeper changes needed to support the transition to a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. 

The aim of the review is to improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban development within environmental limits.

Cabinet’s decisions about the review are outlined in the Cabinet minute and Cabinet paper: Comprehensive review of the resource management system: scope and process.

Scope of the review

The Government proposes that the review should focus on the RMA, including the ways it interacts with other key legislation such as the:

  • Local Government Act 2002 
  • Land Transport Management Act 2003 
  • Climate Change Response Act, to be amended by the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill. 

The scope includes spatial planning which has the potential to help us make better and more strategic decisions about resources and infrastructure over longer timeframes. 

 

Resource Management review scope

Venn diagram showing the scope of the review. The RMA is within scope of the review, including its interactions with the Local Government Act, the Land Transport Management Act, and the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act. This includes spatial planning which works at the intersection of the RMA, the LGA and the LTMA. Areas of others Acts which do not intersect with the RMA are out of scope.

 

The Government has a lot of other work underway that will affect the resource management system. This includes the Essential Freshwater programme, its work responding to climate change, and the Urban Growth Agenda. We’ll make sure that the review draws on, and connects with, work like this.   

The Government is now consulting key stakeholders on the scope of the review. 

Process for the review

The review will be led by a resource management review panel made up of individuals with skills across a range of relevant areas such as planning, local government and te ao Māori. The panel will make recommendations on reforming the RMA. It will provide the Government with detailed policy proposals and indicative drafting of legalisation for key provisions. 

Hon Randerson is a former lawyer and judge with extensive experience in resource management law. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1996. He was subsequently appointed as a High Court Judge in 1997 and was made the Chief High Court Judge in 2004. In 2010 he was appointed to the Court of Appeal, where he served until his retirement in May 2017. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Faculty of Law at University of Auckland. In 1990, Hon Randerson chaired the group that reviewed the Resource Management Bill before it was enacted as the RMA in 1991.

Other members will be appointed over the coming months. Once established the panel will consult with stakeholders to ensure the proposals are informed by expertise and experience.

The Ministry for the Environment will work closely with the panel to develop proposals for public consultation. The Cabinet paper discusses the panel on paragraphs 67-76. 

Public engagement

The Government is planning to undertake public consultation once the panel has developed concrete reform proposals. You can read more about the planned approach to public engagement in paragraphs 77-80 of the Cabinet paper.

The Government recognises that the RMA is of great significance to Māori. Māori will be engaged with throughout the review process – see paragraphs 81-85 of the Cabinet paper

Further links

Environment Minister's media release: Comprehensive overhaul of the RMA 24 July 2019 [Beehive website]

Environment Minister's media release: Two-step RMA reform to start by fixing the previous government’s blunders 9 November 2018 [Beehive website]

Cabinet agreed funding for the review through the sustainable future package in Budget 2019. More information is on the Budget 2019 website see here and here

You can also read the Draft terms of reference for the Resource Management Review Panel [PDF, 1.45 MB]

Reviewed:
24/07/19