government released an exposure draft of the Natural and Built
Environments Bill (the Bill) on 29 June. The resulting Natural
and Built Environments Act will be one of three Acts to replace the Resource
Management Act 1991 (the RMA), the others being the Strategic Planning Act and
the Climate Change Adaptation Act.
Bill’s proposed purpose is broader than the RMA’s; it emphasises protecting and
enhancing the natural environment (instead of just managing it) and considers future
exposure draft covers land-use and environmental regulation and includes draft
- the Bill’s purpose and related provisions
- a national planning framework (Part 3)
- natural and built environments plans (Part 4).
exposure draft marks another step in replacing the RMA, though questions are
being raised over how much of an improvement the Bill really is over the RMA,
including concerns around further cost pressures on councils and erosion of
exposure draft is a partial one, and the Environment Committee will consider it
between 29 June and 18 October. The closing date for public
submissions is 4 August. The select committee will report its findings to Parliament.
Changes will be made before the entire Bill is formally introduced to
Parliament in the first quarter of 2022, followed by the usual select committee
government is looking to pass the Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill into law before
the second half of 2023.
a survey from 7-18 July seeking member input – thank you to those who
completed the survey. We will make a submission on the exposure draft.
A national planning framework
Bill proposes a national planning framework which would have the effect of regulations,
i.e. the government will be able to prepare, update or review the framework
without going through the Parliamentary process. While it could serve as a key
catalyst to making the resource management system agile, responsive and
enabling the government to respond quickly, the framework could look very
different depending on the government of the day.
exposure draft also puts forward a list of indicative principles under Part 2,
such as taking a precautionary approach and having particular regard to
cumulative effects; one of the criticisms of the RMA has been its inability to
account for cumulative effects adequately. Also, this list is more like a
shopping list than a key list of principles. MFE need to cut these down to a
Natural and built environments plans
further key proposal in the exposure draft is having planning committees in
each region to prepare natural and built environments plans. The proposal
follows the Resource Management Review Panel’s proposal to develop one natural
and built environments plan per region. The government has indicated it is
still considering the best approach to plan preparation and decision-making. It
will look to the feedback received from the select committee inquiry. Natural
and built environments plans will consolidate over 100 RMA policy statements
and regional and district plans into about 14 plans, which the government
considers vital to simplifying and improving the integration of the system.
concern of the reforms is that there will now be three Acts to navigate and
interpret and that this may lead to further delays to planning and developing.