The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has launched a New Zealand Law Foundation funded review, New Zealand's Resource Management Law: the Next Generation.
The Law Foundation has contributed funding of $356,000 to the 18-month project, which will study New Zealand experience and international best practice in environmental management law and make evidence-based recommendations for change.
“The RMA was world-leading when enacted 26 years ago, but New Zealand is now a very different place – changing demographics, growth pressures and reaching environmental limits mean that a fundamental rethink is needed. The EDS review will ensure high-quality thinking is done in advance to help shape the new regime,” says EDS CEO Gary Taylor.
“Now that the latest RMA amendments have been enacted, the National-led Government or any new government post-election is likely to launch a major reform initiative in 2018, possibly involving a royal commission or similar. We want to hit the ground running with some properly researched and evidenced ideas,” he says.
Among the issues up for debate will be the complexity of current arrangements, the role of local authorities, central government and the courts and involvement of citizens in environmental decisions and planning.
The project begins on 1 July 2017 and is is by far the largest backed by the Law Foundation.
“It’s great to have the support of an organisation that takes a very progressive view of the world. Often funding will proscribe the kind of outcome that might be sought, but the Law Foundation is completely open-minded: once it has identified a topic of interest and relevance, it’s keen to encourage creative, properly researched and innovative thinking,” Mr Taylor says.
“The Law Foundation has a strong track record of supporting projects that contribute to long-term policy development, and this EDS project is a classic example: it’s preparing the ground for major reform that’s not happening tomorrow, but is not far down the track, says Law Foundation Executive Director Lynda Hagen.