New Zealand Law Society - Environmental and Resource Management Law, 5th edition

Environmental and Resource Management Law, 5th edition

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Editor Derek Nolan
Reviewed by Brianna Parkinso

The first edition of this book was published in 1980, and three more editions followed in 1997, 2005 and 2011. Each edition has been a well-regarded reference source for resource management and environmental practitioners.

This fifth edition builds on that solid foundation and brings the law current to the end of 2014. It is a companion text to the online edition, making that resource accessible to those practitioners who do not have a subscription to the LexisNexis online services.

The stated purpose of the book is to provide comprehensive coverage of all of New Zealand’s environmental legislation and related case law. The breadth of legislation addressed in this 1,449-page book is comprehensive, and the 58-page case index demonstrates the extensive consideration given the case law that has developed around that legislation.

New laws covered include the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act), Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013, and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. All of the chapters have been updated to incorporate new case law, with the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on the King Salmon appeals (by the Environmental Defence Society and Sustain our Sounds) receiving particular attention.

New procedures discussed include the streamlined First Schedule process adopted for Auckland’s first unitary plan, the alternative consenting pathway for qualifying developments in Special Housing Areas, applications for marine consents under the EEZ Act, and the joint application process for aquaculture activities introduced by the 2011 aquaculture reforms.

The structure of the fourth edition has been kept, with the first two chapters providing an introduction to environmental law followed by chapters addressing substantive and procedural topics. While the Resource Management Act 1991 is the focus of nine of the 19 chapters, the book reflects the multifaceted nature of environmental law, with chapters on marine pollution, hazardous substances, new organisms, climate change, and minerals.

A notable feature of the book is the detailed consideration given to the substantive topics that make up the practice of environmental law. Chapters 5 to 10 address the management regime for natural and physical resources including the coastal environment, forests, trees and native plants, minerals, water and air. Later chapters address matters arising in the assessment of effects on the environment including noise, landscape, heritage and cultural assessments. All of the chapters provide an introduction to the topic, as well as detailed case notes and references to academic literature.

The editor Derek Nolan writes that the book is “intended primarily for legal and other practitioners who work in the field of environmental and resource management law”. This focus is most evident in the chapters addressing the procedural aspects of environmental law. Topics include resource consent and plan change processes, environmental assessment, environmental litigation, and statutory remedies.

The book assembles an extensive team of authors from private practice, the judiciary and academia. Despite the different authors for each chapter (and in a number of cases two authors for one chapter) the writing style is consistently excellent.

One stylistic difference between the authors that attracted this reviewer’s attention is the treatment of footnotes. In some chapters the footnotes cite a number of cases with only a brief description of the general topic addressed in the case. In other chapters the footnotes give a concise synopsis of the key point from the relevant or leading authorities. As the first approach necessitates the reader checking each of the cases for relevance it is suggested that the second approach better meets the needs of the busy practitioner.

The layout is relatively easy to follow, with the text divided into chapters and then sub-sections within each chapter. The index does assume the reader has some prior knowledge of the law, and can determine how a given topic will be categorised. For example, direct referrals (to the Environment Court) are not listed under “Environment Court”, but under “Resource consent” as an alternative process for resource consent applications.

Missing from this edition is a legislation index. With some topics being addressed in two or more chapters, a legislation index would enable the reader to navigate to all the relevant references to the section they are interested in. This is something the editor may wish to consider reinstating in future editions, particularly with the book being such a substantial volume.

Those minor points aside, practitioners advising clients on resource management and environmental issues will find much of value in this book. Each of the chapters set out the relevant law in detail, and some of the authors extend the commentary to express their views on issues that have given rise to debate. In this regard the book covers both the basics of the law as stated by statute and interpreted by the courts, while giving some pointers as to where there may be room to develop the law.

Environmental and Resource Management Law, 5th Edition, LexisNexis NZ Ltd, January 2015, 978-1-927248-99-7, 1,449 pages, paperback, $200 (GST included, p&h excluded).

Brianna Parkinson is an Auckland barrister, specialising in environmental, resource management and public law. She is a member of the New Zealand Law Society’s Environmental Law Committee.

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