Incremental changes to RMA welcome, but first principles review of New Zealand's planning laws still needed
26 November 2015
"The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today addresses several significant problems with the Resource Management Act (1991), but further substantial reform of New Zealand's planning laws is needed to link land use planning under the RMA and infrastructure funding and delivery under the Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act," says Chief Executive for NZ Council for Infrastructure Development, Stephen Selwood.
"The changes announced streamline process, standardise templates for planning, promote collaboration in plan making and will speed up the development of National Policies and Environmental Standards. These changes are all welcome and should receive cross party political support.
"NZCID is pleased to see the proposed increase in compensation under the Public Works Act (1981). Where land is acquired for a public work the bill proposes a payment of up to $50,000 non-land related compensation for land owners whose home is acquired under the Public Works Act.
"However the fundamental problem with planning laws in New Zealand is that land use planning and resource management decisions are made under the RMA while decisions about investment and infrastructure to support land use decisions are made under the Local Government Act (LGA) and the Land Transport Management Act (LTMA).
"Plans without money are almost not worth the paper they're written on.
"While NZCID supports the enactment of this Bill, we are also encouraging all political parties to support a fundamental review of planning laws in New Zealand that would integrate urban planning, development and investment and improve environmental outcomes.
"During the 24 year history of the RMA we have seen poor environmental outcomes in terms of fresh water quality, biodiversity and weak performance on climate change imperatives while the development community have been frustrated by the litigious, complex and disintegrated decision making processes which have held back sustainable growth.
"An obvious pathway forward would be to merge the planning components of the RMA with the planning and investment components of the LGA and LTMA and develop an Environmental Protection Act as a separate law dedicated to delivering high environmental outcomes for all New Zealanders," Stephen Selwood says.
For further comment:
Stephen Selwood, CEO
021 791 209
09 377 5570