Further streamlining of the resource management regime and a new one-off process for preparing the Auckland Unitary Plan were introduced in Parliament yesterday as part of the Resource Management Reform Bill.

The omnibus Bill amends the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

Key changes

Provisions in the Bill include:

  • the new process for preparing Auckland's first Unitary Plan (referred to in the Bill as the "Auckland combined plan"), which includes submissions to an independent hearing panel coupled with limited appeal rights
  • streamlining the RMA to introduce a 6-month consenting timeframe for medium-sized projects, and to provide for direct referral of regional projects (based on an investment threshold to be established in regulations).

These amendments were signalled in Government announcements in October. Chapman Tripp's earlier commentary provides further information regarding the Unitary Plan process, and we will be reporting separately in more detail on this aspect of the Bill.

The Bill also includes various other changes to the RMA, many of which will affect local authorities and applicants more generally, such as:

  • new s32 report requirements for plans and policy statements, with a greater emphasis on quantitative assessment of costs and benefits and the need to consider regional economic impact and opportunity costs
  • changes to the information required for resource consent applications (including a new Schedule 4), and
  • amendments relating to timeframes for processing applications and "stopping the clock".

Another tranche of amendments to the RMA is still to come as part of the Government's wider Phase II reform agenda, with consultation on other changes expected next year.

The information in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.