Resource Legislation Amendment Bill in need of fine-tuning, says RMLA
Responding to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced on 26 November 2015, the Resource Management Law Association (RMLA) has made a submission suggesting amendments to key sections including Natural Hazards, Maori Participation, Changes to Plan Making, Changes to Consenting, Court Powers, Process Alignment (Reserves Act and Conservation Act), Public Works Act, EEZ Act and National Direction (NES, NPS, and regulations).
Commenting on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill RMLA President Maree Baker-Galloway says:
‘While the RMLA recognises and supports the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill’s objective to create a resource management system that achieves the sustainable management of natural and physical resources in an efficient and sustainable way, the RMLA is concerned that the Bill may not, in a number of respects (and without amendment), achieve these outcomes.’
Specifically, the RMLA notes that, while the increased emphasis on national direction could achieve better alignment and integration across the resource management system, many of proposed changes are not proportional, and may not result in robust and durable resource management decisions.
Many of the processes, for example, remove or further diminish public participation and rights of appeal. It has not been demonstrated that the loss of these important checks and balances is outweighed by (or is proportional to) the benefits of the new processes in terms of robust and durable resource management decisions.
In terms of durability, the RMLA has significant concerns in respect of the extent to which the Minister (and Government) of any particular day can now change planning provisions and processes.
RMLA also notes its concern regarding the potentially significant transaction cost associated with any amendment to the Bill. In preparing its submission RMLA carefully considered whether each proposed change will achieve its stated objective; whether it will have any unintended consequences; and the implications of changes for users of the Act, such as uncertainty, cost and workability, for example.
Specific comments on these matters are made in RMLA’s submission, which can be found here. In most cases, it is considered that the same broad policy objectives and benefits to users of the legislation can still be achieved with refinements to the Bill to address the concerns summarised above.
It should be noted that the RMLA has a diverse membership with divergent interests and views. For this reason, RMLA’s submission is kept at a reasonably high level and is made with a view to ensure that the reforms
1. are consistent with the general framework of existing laws and policies of relevance, and the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA or Act);
2. are practicable and workable; and
3. will assist in promoting best practice.
To view RMLA’s submission in full, please click here or visit: