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RMA BILL REPORTED BACK FROM SELECT COMMITTEE
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After months of delay, the Local Government and Environment Select Committee has reported back on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (‘Bill’), recommending (by majority) that it be passed with amendments.

This proposed legislation is set to extensively reform the Resource Management Act 1991 (‘RMA’) along with a number of related statutes which comprise the resource management system in New Zealand.[1]  The National Government initiated the Bill as part of its second phase of RMA reforms, in order to address “cumbersome planning processes and the time and cost of consenting”.[2]  However, some of the proposals in the Bill have been criticised for curbing public participation and local government decision-making. 
 


 

The key changes recommended by the Select Committee include:

  • Significantly scaling back proposed regulation-making powers (being one of the more controversial elements of the Bill)
  • Removing mandatory strike-out of submissions on resource consents
  • Restricting the proposed fast-track process to controlled activities requiring land use consent under a District Plan
  • Allowing applicants to ‘opt-out’ of a fast-track route if they want to
  • Introducing a 10 working day statutory processing timeframe for boundary activity exemptions in line with the new fast-track process
  • Clarifying that written approval is only required from the owners (not occupiers) of the property to which a boundary rule applies
  • Introducing a 5 year lapse period for unimplemented boundary activities and deemed permitted activities, to stop these from remaining ‘live’ indefinitely if not implemented
  • Removing the requirement for consent authorities to specify special circumstances warranting notification of resource consent applications
  • Renaming the ‘National Planning Template’ as ‘National Planning Standards’
  • Requiring consent authorities to consider offsetting proposed by the applicant when determining resource consent applications.

Last year we produced a series of Newsflashes describing the provisions of the Bill as it was introduced.  Those Newsflashes can be found here:

The report released yesterday includes a revised version of the Bill, which was prepared by the Select Committee after considering a 500-page departmental report by the Ministry for the Environment, as well as more than 700 submissions by members of the public, interest groups, and businesses.

You can read the full text of the Report here.

The Select Committee’s report has confirmed a number of politically driven amendments to the Bill signalled in November 2016 (which we summarised here), including changes to Iwi Participation Arrangements – included to secure the Māori Party’s support for the Bill.  The New Zealand Labour Party, Green Party of Aotearoa/New Zealand and New Zealand First have all prepared brief minority reports opposing the Bill.

What’s next?

The Minister has indicated that the Bill will come back to the House for its second reading this week.  The Government will be looking to push the Bill through with the support of the Māori Party well before the election in September.  A press release from the Minister suggests further amendments could be necessary to ensure the changes recommended in the report are consistent with the agreement between the Government and Māori Party.

Kensington Swan will be analysing the significant aspects of the Bill in a series of Newsflashes, focussing on key changes to the features of the Bill as originally proposed and the implications of those changes.  Look out for our first in-depth look at the changes next week. 

Further information

If you would like to discuss the implications of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, please contact Nicky McIndoe.
 

[1] The Public Works Act 1981, the Conservation Act 1987, the Environmental Protection Authority Act 2011, and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.
[2] Ministry for the Environment The second phase of Resource Management Act reform (November, 2015)

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Nicky McIndoe
Nicky McIndoe

Partner

Wellington and Auckland

+64 4 915 0818

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