On 10 February 2021 David Parker, the Minister for the Environment, announced that the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) will be repealed and replaced with three new pieces of legislation.
The proposed legislation has emerged from the recommendations of the Resource Management Review Panel set out in the Randerson Report (published June 2020), which involved a comprehensive review of the RMA.
The three proposed pieces of legislation are as follows:
1. Natural and Built Environments Act (NBEA)
The NBEA will be the primary replacement for the RMA, and will provide for land use and environmental regulation. The NBEA will require replacement of the multiple council plans with a single combined plan for each region (it is estimated that 100+ plans would be reduced to 14 total plans).
2. Strategic Planning Act (SPA)
The SPA will be developed in parallel with the NBEA, and will require long-term regional spatial strategies, facilitating decision making across the resource management system. This will include strategic planning for urban growth, responding to the effects of climate change, and identifying areas of significance to Māori.
3. Climate Change Adaptation Act (CCAA)
This CCAA will also be developed in parallel with the other proposed Acts, and will facilitate the managed retreat strategy for areas affected by climate change (for example, sea level rise).
The NBEA will be the first piece of draft legislation to be progressed, and due to its complexity it will go through a special Select Committee Inquiry before its first introduction to Parliament. Minister Parker has stated that the NBEA is expected to be in force by the end of 2022. The SPA and the CCAA are planned to be in place before the end of the current Government term.
The focus of the proposed legislation is on natural environmental outcomes and making sure environmental bottom lines are protected, along with the enablement of urban development, including the improving housing supply and affordability. The suite of legislation also aims to simplify the planning process, including reduction of time and cost.
It is important to remember that this is not a change that will happen overnight. The transition period will be lengthy, and the current RMA processes will likely still be in place for some time to come.
More information on the reform of the Resource Management system can be found here.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss the above, please contact our Environmental and Planning specialists Lauren Wallace, Rebecca Eaton or Jaye Atkin.