The Coalition Government has today launched a comprehensive overhaul of the Resource Management Act (RMA) to cut complexity and costs and better enable urban development, while also improving protection of the environment.
Nearly three decades have passed since the law which manages built and natural resources was passed, but it was not working as well as intended. There have been amendments to the RMA since 1991, but it has only added complexity while failing to protect the environment.
Evidence of its failure is the decline of freshwater quality, and while there are many factors contributing to the housing crisis, planning rules are partly to blame. There had also been too little spatial planning in and around growing urban areas.
A revamped RMA is aimed to be fit for purpose in the 21st century, that will cut complexity and cost while better protecting the environment.
A reform project initiated by the Environmental Defence Society with input from Infrastructure NZ, the Property Council and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) had highlighted the need for change and how to address it.
The overhaul will be led by a panel chaired by retired Appeal Court Judge Tony Randerson, who brings extensive legal and resource management expertise to the task. It is expected to produce a proposal for reform, including drafts of key legislative provisions, by mid-2020.
Meanwhile, the Coalition Government will press ahead with work to improve freshwater quality and urban development, protect highly productive land and indigenous biodiversity, and reduce waste, because these are urgent and cannot wait for the comprehensive reform plan.