RMLA News

Position Statement of the National Committee regarding Plan Agility and First Schedule Reform

POSITION STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT LAW ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND INCORPORATED (“RMLA”)

PLAN AGILITY AND FIRST SCHEDULE REFORM

Purpose

  1. The purpose of this paper is to state the position of the National Committee of the RMLA in the context of the current debate about whether full rights of appeal to the Environment Court on RMA planning documents should be retained as part of potential reform initiatives aimed at improving the responsiveness of planning instruments to changing circumstances (plan agility).

  2. This position statement has been prepared with reference to a number of recent contributions including papers prepared by the Local Government sector, Land and Water Forum, and by the Environment Court itself in the context of a potential “bespoke” procedure for promulgation of the Auckland Unitary Plan.
  3. The National Committee of the RMLA is taking this unprecedented step as a reflection of how significant it sees the issues involved to be; not just for the professions which the Association represent, but relative to the core objectives of the RMLA, and specifically that of promoting resource management processes that produce high quality environmental outcomes.

Executive Summary

  1. Rather than dispensing with any one or more phases of the current plan preparation process altogether, the Ministry for the Environment should harness the range of constructive proposals for better public engagement at the outset of the plan review procedures (thereby reducing the need or likelihood of submitters exercising an appeal right), alongside the suggestions for continued improvement in the case management of plan appeals, and as recently recounted by Acting Principal Environment Judge Newhook.
  2. Adopting that approach, along with further incentives to promote a genuine commitment to collaborative processes suggested in this document, we consider that the imperatives of plan agility can be realised without raising the strong concerns held by many members about a potential reduction in the quality of planning outcomes arising through a removed or limited right or scope of appeal to the Environment Court.

To read a copy of the full position statement, click here.