The Resource Management Act (RMA) is the main way that ordinary New Zealanders can have a say in how our resources and environment are managed.
It is among the most important tools that Forest & Bird uses, but it is about us all.
One of the core ideas behind the Act is that the best outcomes are achieved when the public and community groups, such as Forest & Bird, are able to be involved in planning and resource consent decision-making.
In practice, very few cases or matters are disputed, or receive submissions. Fewer than 1% of cases are appealed. Around 4% of cases are publicly notified, for submissions. 95% of cases proceed on time.
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The government is proposing some changes which will make planning simpler and more consistent across the country. We support many of these.
However, to address “uncertainty, cost and delay”, the government has also announced that it will rewrite the most important parts of the Resource Management Act - in ways that will significantly and seriously reduce environmental protection, and people’s ability to participate.
Our main concerns with what is proposed
1. Environmental protection
2. People’s participation
3. Uncertainty and cost
Read more, in Forest & Bird’s 2-page summary of the main concerns
- Read more here from Sally Gepp's presentation (from Forest & Bird's legal team) on the proposed changes to the RMA.
- Read “grave concerns” from a qualified town planner of over 10 years experience, including significant experience in Australia, England and Wales.
What's happening now
Due to the government’s inability to get the numbers in Parliament, RMA reforms that have been waiting in the wings will not now be introduced before the election, according to the Prime Minister in comments to his post-Cabinet press conference, 19 May 2014.
Government will instead campaign on this issue, attempting to seek an election mandate and highlighting issues about housing affordability.
Of course, this isn’t what the controversial parts of the reforms are about. Housing affordability and RMA planning process concerns are being used as a Trojan horse by Environment Minister Amy Adams for a complete rewrite of sections 6 and 7, which list the Act’s most important principles and put environmental and landscape matters high on the list of “matters of national importance”.
In response to the government’s media statements, the Labour party immediately offered to support RMA reforms directed to the goal of housing affordability (but stating clearly that section 6 and 7 change would not be supported).
This was rejected by the government - as had been efforts over a year by Forest & Bird and other environment groups to discuss with the Minister good options for fixing planning problems without undermining the Act’s principles, and people’s right to participate.
Read Forest & Bird’s media release here
Cartoons help spread the word to Save the RMA
A new “Save the RMA” Facebook page has already attracted over 500 supporters. The cartoons do a great job of communicating the serious concerns we have about what’s being proposed.
Resource Management Act Reform
Recently announced recommendations from a government-appointed Technical Advisory Group would spell disaster for the Resource Management Act if they were implemented.