This month, Taituarā submitted on the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill. These Bills form part of the replacement for the existing Resource Management Act (RMA). We have significant concerns with the Bills as it is unlikely that the new system will be simpler, more efficient, and cost-effective, nor is it clear that they will adequately address climate change.

The proposed system will include the regionalisation of plan making and the establishment of Regional Planning Committees. We highlight that this will reduce local democratic input into plan making and result in unwieldy plans. We have raised concerns that capacity and capability constraints in the sector puts the new system at risk. We also have serious concerns about the complex employment relations set out in under the Regional Planning Committee/Secretariat structure.

The transition process

The transition to the new system will not be easy. Councils will be expected to maintain business as usual under the RMA while contributing to the development of Regional Spatial Plans (RSSs) and NBEA plans. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of uncertainty about when councils will need to start transitioning to the new system. Although a staged approach to the transition has been proposed by the Ministry for the Environment, the date from which tranches of councils may transition is dependent on Orders in Council.

Taituarā submission

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of our submission, especially the members of our Resource Management Reform Reference Group. If you are interested in the issues we have raised as well as the recommendations we have proposed, you can read our written submission.

Oral submissions

We have also briefed the Environment Committee on our concerns – you can find our submission at 1 hour 20 minutes. Steve Ruru, Chief Executive of Taranaki Regional Council, Jo Noble, Chief of Science and Strategy at Gisborne District Council, and Taituarā Advisor Jen Coatham have also spoken about our submission at the Environment Committee’s hearings.

Future work

Taituarā and our Resource Management Reform Reference Group will now turn our focus to supporting your council and region as it transitions to the new system. We are here to help so if there are issues you would like to raise please let us know. Otherwise, make sure you are added to the RMREFORM Discussion Group in order to receive ongoing updates as we make our way through the transition.