With the support of the Maori party, the much-delayed Bill will now be able to pass its second and third readings, bringing the Government one step closer to realising its reforms of the Resource Management Act (‘RMA’). While somewhat overshadowed by the American election, this is a milestone in RMA reform which should not be overlooked and will impact all owners and developers of land in New Zealand.
The Minister’s announcement is here.
The Bill in a nutshell
The Bill is the second phase of the Government’s two-part RMA reforms, and has been described by Dr Nick Smith as “the most comprehensive package of reform to the RMA since its inception 25 years ago”. When introduced on 26 November 2015, the Bill was over 180 pages and proposed amendments to the RMA, Public Works Act, Conservation Act, Reserves Act, and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act. Kensington Swan released a series of Newsflashes about the Bill, which can be accessed here:
Key provisions in the Bill include:
The Bill had its first reading on 3 December 2015 and was referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. Over 800 submissions were received, with concerns raised by diverse business and community interests. The Select Committee report-back date was extended several times and a report was due on 7 November 2016.
What changes have been agreed with the Maori Party?
Iwi participation arrangements in the Bill enable iwi and councils to enter into agreements on how iwi can be involved in resource management processes, and ensure that their perspective is heard and understood. Many iwi participation arrangements are already in place through Treaty settlements or good practice, but the effectiveness of existing relationships between iwi and councils varies across the Country.
The main changes the Government has agreed to make to the iwi participation arrangements are:
What other changes can we expect?
Without a full Select Committee report there is no detail about what further changes will be made to the Bill. The Minister’s press release suggests we should expect to see:
The Bill has now been referred back to the Select Committee, which has a hefty task ahead of it to work through the 500-page departmental report and refine the drafting of the Bill. Although the Government wants to progress the Bill as quickly as possible, it’s running out of time to pass the Bill before the end of this year. The Government will also need to consult the Maori Party on the detailed drafting of the Bill when it is reported back to Parliament to ensure that the Bill is consistent with the agreed policy.
If you would like to discuss the implications of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, please contact Nicky McIndoe. If you would like assistance understanding the iwi participation process, or with drafting an iwi participation arrangement, please contact Deborah Edmunds.