The Government is repealing the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and replacing it with new legislation.
The reform of the RMA represents a significant opportunity for transformative and systemic change. LGNZ will be advocating for councils to ensure that the new legislation is fit for purpose.
The three new Acts are:
- The Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA), which will be the main replacement for the RMA;
- The Strategic Planning Act (SPA), which will require councils, iwi/Māori and central government agencies to develop 30-year regional spatial plans; and
- The Climate Change Adaptation Act (CAA), which deals with the legal and technical matters associated with climate change adaptation and managed retreat.
Having critically reviewed the exposure draft of the NBA – which is the first cab off the rank – LGNZ is broadly supportive of the proposed direction. This is particularly so in the areas of spatial planning, the overall direction, and the stronger role for iwi/Māori in our planning system. However, there is a strong case to strengthen the provisions for community input into the planning system at the local level. Enabling urban development is another area that needs greater attention in the reforms. We are actively working to have these concerns addressed by the Government.
Status of the reform
The Government released an exposure draft of the NBA in June 2021, and the public was invited to make submissions. You can find the exposure draft and information about the broader resource management reform on the Ministry for the Environment’s website, here.
The Environment Select Committee met in September 2021 to hear submissions, including from LGNZ. See our full analysis below.
Once the select committee has considered submissions, it will report its findings to Parliament, which is likely to happen sometime over the next few months. Any changes will be made before the full Bill is formally introduced in early 2022, and we expect that there will be another round of public consultation as part of the standard legislative process (including another Select Committee review).
Submission on the NBA
LGNZ supports the broad reform direction, as the Resource Management Act 1991 has failed the natural environment as well as the built environment. We welcome the focus on greater environmental protection and better coordination across the planning system.
Our submission to the Government outlines the key areas where we think NBA needs more work. These include:
- incorporating the local voice in the planning and design of public spaces (place-making);
- ensuring accountability of decision-makers;
- enabling urban development, the built environment and infrastructure; and
- ensuring the Purpose statement is clear to avoid years of legal challenge.
You can also read the speaking notes from our team who presented their submission to the Environment Committee on 2 September 2021:
- Stuart Crosby, LGNZ President
- James Palmer, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chief Executive
- David Allen, Partner at Buddle Findlay
- Jason Krupp, LGNZ’s Deputy Chief Executive – Policy and Advocacy
LGNZ commissioned expert advice on the RMA reforms
- RMA reforms – A new dawn or continued uncertainty: A legal opinion that reviews whether proposed Part 2 of the Natural and Built Environment Act will lead better quality outcomes for both the natural and built environments and a more responsive system. (March 2021)
- Implications of the recommendations in the Randerson Report on the future role and functions of local government: Legal advice that examines the implications for the role and responsibilities of local government as a result of the reforms, and the ability of local communities to have their views shape planning outcomes. (November 2020)
- Done Right - Spatial Planning Can Improve Housing Affordability: An urban economic analysis that makes the case for the RM Reforms to go further in the protection of future transport corridors with the aim of making infrastructure and housing more affordable. (April 2021)