On 26 November 2015, the Minister for the Environment, the
Honourable Nick Smith, announced the long-awaited details of the
suite of reforms to the Resource Management Act 1991
("RMA") and other environmental legislation proposed in
the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.
The main objectives of the reforms are to achieve better
alignment and integration across the resource management system,
proportional and adaptable processes, and robust and durable
The proposed reforms aim to (among other things):
provide greater national direction from central government
across the spectrum of resource management processes;
improve consistency in plans and policy statements at a
including the provision of national planning templates;
measures to improve housing affordability;
introduce two different plan development options:
a streamlined process; and
a collaborative process;
improve consistency in iwi engagement; and
provide for a simpler and more efficient processing of resource
There are no substantial changes to Part 2 of the RMA (Purpose
and Principles), except the proposed addition of "the
management of significant risks from natural hazards" as
a new matter of national importance under section 6.
If the Bill is enacted, we can expect to see more planning
processes like those we have experienced recently in Canterbury,
expedited plan-making and hearing processes;
area-specific committees; and
reduced appeal rights.
These reforms signal a paradigm shift in the way environmental
issues will be managed under the RMA in the future.
The Bill will have its first reading in Parliament and will
likely be referred to the Local Government and Environment Select
Committee. Watch out for the timeframes (yet to be announced) to
have a say and participate in the development of this Bill.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Government aims to tighten laws regulating the taking of groundwater for mining activities by resource proponents.
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