RMA: It’s not broke but it needs fixing

10 February 2020

NZPI’s Resource Management Review submission was lodged a week ago. It builds on recent submissions, international literature searches, a member survey and member workshops held in January. You can get the gist in its Executive Summary by clicking the link to the submission (below).

Submission includes … while the new Act integrated and incorporated many disparate processes and statutes, it, and related processes and interests have created an increasingly complex environment, with new pieces of inter-related legislation (quite apart from amendments to the RMA itself), new tools and processes, and additional stakeholders and institutions. NZPI’s submission illustrates this complexity, draws attention to the broader fabric of NZ’s resource management system, and suggests that any proposed changes need to recognise that complexity.

NZPI recognises that while serious problems and failures have emerged with NZ’s resource management system – as described in the Resource Management Review Panel “Issues and Options” paper – NZPI notes that parts of the system are functioning well – such as the management of point sources of pollution to water and air – and that NZ continues to rate very highly in international liveability rankings which in part is a reflection of the performance of our resource management systems. It’s not all bad, but parts do require reworking.

NZPI notes that the focus on environmental effects has tended to drive the resource management system to be reactive, rather than proactive, despite its purpose’s reference to “the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations”. There are many examples of this. Whenever the country has been faced with large scale, urgent or difficult issues, and when city regions have experienced high urban growth, some sort of central Government intervention has been required to achieve a timely response. Recent examples include: dairy farm irrigation; Christchurch earthquakes; Auckland Unitary Plan; and rapid urban development. Future examples include: freshwater management; biodiversity; climate change and urban regeneration. These interventions – which have generally been ad hoc - almost always ignore standard RMA statutory documents and some seek to circumvent them. Yet these issues are the new normal. Our planning frameworks and systems should be designed to cope with and provide for them…..

Click here to download submission