RMLA welcomes the passage of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill through its final reading
On Thursday April 06, the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passed its third reading before the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Bill includes a number of important amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991; Reserves Act 1977; Public Works Act 1981; Conservation Act 1987; and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.
The Resource Management Law Association (RMLA) welcomes the certainty that comes with the Bill’s passage through its final reading, and looks forward to its Assent and implementation. However, the RMLA notes several remaining concerns. While the Bill’s passage relieves uncertainty created through the delays, and while its passing into law will unlock some of the potentially positive tools embedded within the Bill, such as the National Planning Standards, RMLA remains concerned that the Bill may not, in certain respects, achieve its objective of managing New Zealand’s natural and physical resources in an efficient and sustainable way.
The RMLA had previously noted its concern that while the increased emphasis on national direction could achieve better alignment and integration across the resource management system, many of proposed changes were unnecessary and potentially introduced unintended costs, complexities and new opportunities for procedural challenges that would not assist in achieving 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 had noted significant concerns in respect of the extent to which the Minister (and Government) of any particular day can now change planning provisions and processes. In this respect, the RMLA is pleased to see that the unqualified discretion of the Minister to approve early use of the collaborative planning process has been amended; and that the proposed regulation making powers in the original bill have been significantly reduced.
The RMLA will continue to work with the Ministry for the Environment and other government departments, councils, organisations and our members, to support the implementation of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill in a manner that maximises its benefits and encourages best practice, above and beyond regulatory and legislative requirement.
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Communications and Sponsorship Manager
Resource Management Law Association
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About the Resource Management Law Association (RMLA):
Founded in 1992, the Resource Management Law Association (RMLA) is a multi-disciplinary membership organisation Association with over 1100 members including lawyers, planners, environmental managers, scientists, engineers, architects, local authority and central government officers.
The RMLA seeks to promote within New Zealand an understanding of resource management law and its implementation; excellence in resource management policy and practice; resource management processes which are legally sound, effective and efficient; and which produce high-quality environmental outcomes.