New Zealand Law Society - Resource Management Act "overhaul" announced

Resource Management Act "overhaul" announced

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Environment Minister David Parker has announced a comprehensive overhaul of the Resource Management Act 1991.

He says it is to cut complexity and costs and better enable urban development, while also improving protection of the environment.

The overhaul will be led by a panel chaired by retired Court of Appeal Judge Tony Randerson QC. The Draft Terms of Reference state that a final report is due with the Minister at the end of May 2020.

"A complete rewrite of the RMA is not a review deliverable, but indicative solutions should be provided that can be used for completion of that task. Cabinet will be responsible for making all decisions about how to progress review findings," it says.

The review will produce an "issues and options" paper to solicit feedback for the Panel to consider in writing their final report. This is due with the Minister at the end of October 2019.

The Draft Terms of Reference say the aim of the review is to "improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban development within environmental limits".

"The review is expected to resolve debate on key issues, including possibly separating statutory provision for land use planning from environmental protection of air, water, soil and biodiversity. Resolving questions of this magnitude will require the review to consider a wide range of options, including options that depart from the status quo.

"One such option, in the context of further clarifying Part 2 (purpose and principles) of the RMA, is determining whether Part 2 (or its replacement) sits in the RMA or in a separate piece of legislation.

"The review must design a system for land use regulation and environmental protection that is fit for addressing current and future challenges. Recommendations should consider, and where appropriate reflect, developments in New Zealand and international best practice."

The review will focus primarily on the RMA itself. It will include the interface of the RMA with the Local Government Act 2002, the Land Transport Management Act 2003 and the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act (once passed).

Further information on the review as well as the Cabinet Paper is available from the Ministry for the Environment.