New Zealand Law Society - Resource Management Amendment Bill introduced

Resource Management Amendment Bill introduced

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The Resource Management Amendment Bill was introduced on 23 September 2019. Environment Minister David Parker is in charge of the bill.

The bill reduces the complexity, increases certainty and restores public participation by repealing changes made by the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (RLAA). Clause 71 repeals sections 360D and 360E and 360G, and 360H of the Resource Management Act 1991. Section 360D enables regulations to prohibit or overturn rules in council plans that overlap with other legislation.

Clause 26 amends section 128(1)(b) to re-enables submissions and appeals when appropriate, for subdivision and residential activity applications, and removes the ability for regulations to prevent notification of other types of applications. Clause 26 also reintroduces the ability for submitters to appeal resource consent decisions regarding issues that were not included in their original submissions.

Resource consent applications with a controlled activity status are subject to a 10-working-day “fast-track” process, rather than the standard 20-working-day process. Clauses 15 and 16 repeal the ability to fast-track other types or classes of activities, or to prescribe information requirements for fast-track applications, by regulation.

The bill reinstates the presumption that subdivision is a restricted activity unless explicitly permitted by a district plan (clause 6 inserting new section 11(1)(a)).

The Bill repeals the relevant RLAA provisions so that consent authorities can continue to charge financial contributions as consent conditions after April 2022.

Improving resource management processes

The bill enables applicants to have processing of non-notified resource consent applications suspended, enabling consent authorities to suspend processing resource consent applications until fixed administrative charges are paid (clause 19 inserting new section 88H), and extending the time period to lodge retrospective resource consent applications for emergency work (clause 59 amending section 330B).

Improving enforcement provisions

Clause 9 amends section 42C to empower the Environmental Protection Authority to take enforcement action under the RMA in order to enhance accountability and provide support for those currently responsible for enforcement.

Improving freshwater management

Clause 13 replaces Subpart 4 of Part 5 with Subpart 4 – Freshwater planning process. These amendments are intended to support the need to improve freshwater management and provide a new plan-making process that councils must use for proposed regional policy statements or regional plans (or changes) for freshwater.

The powers of hearing panels will be enhanced, including directing conferencing of experts, appointing special advisers, cross-examination, and mediation.

The Act comes into force on the day after the date in which it receives the Royal assent. Sections 24 and  26 come into force on the day that is 3 months after the date the Act receives the Royal assent.