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Environment Committee reports on Resource Management Amendment Bill

The Environment Committee has examined the Resource Management Amendment Bill and recommends by majority that it be passed with the amendments shown.

Introduction

The Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA) is New Zealand’s principal statute for managing the environment. Its purpose is to promote sustainable management ofNew Zealand’s natural and physical resources. It does this by providing provisions and procedures for central government and local government (regional councils and territorial authorities) to follow when making decisions that affect the environment. This bill is the first stage of proposed changes to the resource management system.

The second stage will depend on a wider review of the resource management system that is currently underway. This bill seeks to:

  • reduce complexity in existing RMA processes, increase certainty for participants, and restore previous opportunities for public participation
  • improve existing resource management processes and enforcement provisions
  • improve freshwater management.

The bill would make two notable changes to the existing resource management system:

  • New enforcement powers would be given to the Environmental Protectionuthority.
  • A new planning process for freshwater management would be introduced. (180—2)

The bill would amend the Resource Management Act and the Resource LegislationAmendment Act 2017, and make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Proposed amendments

The commentary covers the main amendments that we recommend (by majority) to the bill as introduced. We do not discuss all minor, technical, or consequential amendments.

The commentary can be broken down into four main areas:

  • improvements to general resource management processes
  • the Environmental Protection Authority’s new enforcement powers
  • the new freshwater planning process and related changes
  • clarifying the relationship between the RMA and aspects of climate change mitigation.

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