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Nick Smith Announces Key Areas for RMA Reform

Madeleine de Young – January 27, 2015

Last Wednesday, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced what the National Government are describing as, ‘‘The most significant overhaul of the Act since its inception 25 years ago. We want to modernise the purpose to make it more practical and relevant, standardise council plans and simplify the process for gaining consents.”

Outlining 10 key areas for change, Smith emphasised the complexity and lack of consistency in applying the RMA.

“The act has some fundamental design flaws that require substantial overhaul. The purposes and principles are out-dated and ill-matched with the reality of the issues it manages.’

With New Zealand’s largest database of resource consent decisions under our management, we at CS-VUE can agree that the level of variation in how the act is interpreted is staggering. New Zealand currently has 68 district councils and 10 regional councils, each with their own approach as to how to enforce the RMA and issue resource consents. This complicates the management process, particularly for businesses working across multiple council areas. It is therefore promising to note that national planning templates and consistency are highlighted as key areas for change. In the interest of compliance made easy for everyone, CS-VUE looks forward to seeing exactly what that change looks like.

The 10 Key Areas for change outlined by Environment Minister, Nick Smith include:

• Add natural hazards

• Recognise urban planning

• Prioritise housing affordability

• Acknowledge importance of infrastructure

• Greater weight to property rights

• National planning templates

• Speed up plan-making

• Encouraging collaborative resolution

• Strengthening national tools

• Internet for simplicity and speed’

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