Replacement RMA on right track but much work still to be done

June 29, 2021

The EMA says the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act is tracking in the right direction but there is still much work to be done in replacing the outdated Resource Management Act (RMA).

EMA Head of Advocacy and Strategy, Alan McDonald, says: "The new Act is the first of three proposed to replace the current RMA and this exposure draft is an important and welcome first step in repealing and reforming our planning and environmental legislation."

The EMA, along with Property Council New Zealand, Infrastructure NZ, the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) and BusinessNZ have been driving forces behind recognising the need for change and encouraging the Government and opposition parties to take a fresh look at the RMA.

"This is just the first step in what will hopefully deliver a faster, less complex and more environmentally protective and business user-friendly legislation," says Mr McDonald.

"The intent to cut the number of plans to just 14 while still enabling localised input should reduce current complexity in the planning regime and give more clarity for infrastructure development, industrial development and crucially faster housing development.

"But how the new Act fits with both the forthcoming Strategic Planning Bill and the Climate Adaptation Bill will be critical to the success of the reforms. Potentially replacing one RMA with the new Acts could possibly add to rather than reduce complexity, so the interface between the three will be critical."

Mr McDonald says there were still concerns at how many, possibly even competing outcomes, were to be met in the new proposal.

"Perhaps not enough emphasis is placed on the prioritisation of infrastructure development but that is something to be worked on through the exposure draft and select committee stages.

"It’s great to see this first stage of the reform of the RMA as it’s the culmination of a number of years of hard work and really good engagement with Government and other stakeholders in getting to this point.

"It’s important we get this round of reform right to protect out environmental heritage and future, while also recognising the importance of development in giving New Zealanders the social and economic outcomes we also need," Mr McDonald says.

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