Transforming the Resource Management System - Issues & Options Paper Released for Public Comment


The Government’s Review Panel, established to undertake a comprehensive review of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) (and other legislation within the resource management system), has released an “Issues and Options Paper” (Transforming the resource management system: Opportunities for Change) for public comment.

The stated purpose of the Issue and Options Paper is to start a conversation about issues to be considered and addressed by the Panel’s review.  Accordingly, the Paper identifies 14 principle issues and possible corresponding options for reform.

Fundamental Shift in Approach

In identifying issues and options, the Paper signals the potential for a fundamental shift in principles and approach to that of the current RMA.

In particular, the Paper proposes consideration of a shift to an “outcome” rather than an “effects-based” planning system, as a means of providing more certainty about development that is and is not permitted and “reducing the current strong focus on decision making through the resource consent process”. Related to this issue, the Paper also calls into question the ability to apply for a private plan change.

Additionally, the Paper outlines possible options, for resolving “systemic problems” in relation to consenting, as including simplifying categories or activities and processing tracks, establishing a separate permitting process for residential activities with minor effects and simplifying notification decisions by notifying all activities (but removing automatic requirements for hearings and appeals).

Further, the possible options identified by the Paper in relation to improving the allocation framework include the question of whether the “first in first served” principle should be retained or modified and consideration of the role of specific tools such as spatial planning, transferable rights, tendering or auction.

Questions Posed for Comment

The range of issues and options culminate in a series of questions being posed for comment, including;

  • Should there be separate legislation dealing with environmental management and land use of planning for development, or is the current integrated approach preferred? 
  • What changes are to be made to Part 2 of the RMA? 
  • Are changes needed to address Maori interests and engagement when decisions are made under the RMA? 
  • How could land use planning processes under the RMA be better aligned with processes under the Local Government Act 2002 and the Land Transport Management Act 2003? 
  • 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 what changes are required to address climate change adaptation and natural hazards? 
  • What role should more mandatory national direction have in setting environmental standards, protection of the environment more generally and in managing urban development? 
  • How could the content of plans be improved? 
  • How could consent processes at the national, regional and district levels be improved to deliver more efficient and effective outcomes while preserving appropriate opportunities for public participation? 
  • Is the RMA the appropriate legislative vehicle for economic instruments? 
  • Should allocation of resources such as water and coastal marine space be dealt with under the RMA? 
  • What changes are needed to improve monitoring of the resource management system, data collection, management and use? 
  • What changes are needed to compliance, monitoring and enforcement functions under the RMA to improve efficiency and effectiveness?

Making Comments

Comments on the Paper will inform the development of the Review Panel’s proposal for reform, with the Panel being tasked to produce a final report on reform proposals by mid-2020.

A complete copy of the Issues and Options Paper can be found via this link.

Comments are due no later Monday 3 February 2020.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Team at Adderley Head if you would like to discuss the Paper and/or the submission of comments.

Disclaimer: This is a brief summary for information purposes only and is not legal advice.


Posted on Friday 22nd November, 2019 at 02:11 pm