Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passes third reading

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill has passed its third reading, signalling the largest shake up of the Resource Management Act since its inception in 1991.

The 40 changes in National’s resource management reforms will help streamline the processes contained within the current Act, making it easier to build more homes and create more jobs. The changes will also reduce costs and bureaucracy while improving the management of our environment.

Councils and developers will be able to get houses consented and built faster. And a greater housing supply means more affordable housing.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill makes significant gains which reduce costs and delays. These include new plan-making options to provide greater flexibility to Councils, a reduction in the number of consents required and fewer opportunities for appeals to the Environment Court. This will assist with the freeing up land supply, enabling increased pace in housing development and the construction of infrastructure.

The reforms also reduce duplication with other Acts, ensure Councils better manage natural hazards, and increase legal weighting for property rights. This is critical for increasing housing supply because it makes it easier, faster and less costly to create new sections.

There has been a lot of misleading publicity about iwi participation agreements. It is important to clear up any confusion because iwi participation agreements are not new. The RMA has always required Councils to engage with iwi but provided little direction as to how. These amendments provide clearer guidance for councils.

The new arrangements will help Councils clarify which iwi need to be consulted, and on what issues. As with the other amendments this will deliver a more efficient process for all stakeholders.

Further, all final decision-making remains with councils, as it has always been with no extension of legal obligations to consult on any specific plan or consent. Whether or not a council and iwi choose to enter into an iwi participation agreement is up to them. It is worth noting that a significant number of councils already have these arrangements in place and they are proving to work well for their communities.

The changes are practical and will bring significant improvement to RMA processes in the short to medium term. They will streamline consultation processes, meaning fewer delays, lower costs, and better all-round results.

The reforms are a core part of our plan to make New Zealand a stronger, more prosperous country. The passing of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill is a catalyst for this.