By Michelle McCormick, Infrastructure New Zealand Policy Director

It’s full steam ahead for the future resource management system. 

While legislation underpinning the system is still to be introduced into the House, key features of the new system have been revealed in recent months.

Details of the two main pieces of legislation, the Natural and Built Environments Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill, that will replace the RMA have been outlined in a series of speeches by Environment Minister Hon David Parker.

Largely based on the Randerson Report recommendations, the Minister’s latest speech on 6 September had a specific lens on infrastructure and development enabled by the new Acts.

In the meantime, INZ welcomes the engagement by the Ministry for the Environment, who have facilitated several workshops and webinars to introduce the new resource management system.

These include discussions on the new model in detail, including its features and relationships between both the various resource management components, and to other government documents. These include the Government Policy Statements on Land Transport and Housing and Urban Development, the National Land Transport Programme and the Government response to the Infrastructure Strategy.

Those responsible for infrastructure will welcome a more consistent and outcomes-focused national approach, rather than the current focus on effects, which has often been subjective in nature.

Most requirements and environmental limits will be determined at the national level. This will be a welcome relief from the current resource-intensive system where infrastructure providers have to debate provisions for critical infrastructure development and operation in every district plan and regional policy statement.

A National Planning Framework (NPF) will be established to facilitate this more directive approach from the Government. The NPF will be developed and finalised through a board of inquiry process. It will need to be operational by 2025 so it can guide the first regional spatial strategies. It will consolidate all existing resource management national direction and resolve the conflicts between these and set out standards and default consent conditions as a priority.

Ministers are clear that they want new infrastructure content to enable essential infrastructure development and operations as an important component of the new system.

The Ministry for the Environment and Te Waihanga / The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission are working on this section together. Engagement with the sector is already underway with two half day workshops held to test the proposed content, priorities and to identify existing content that could have a national application. 

There is recognition that the sector has a wealth of experience which can be incorporated into the new system. We encourage members to identify examples of good practice and standard conditions within the existing system that are working well, so we can take these forward through the transition.

It is critical that INZ members take every opportunity to participate and shape this reform programme. The new resource management system must reduce the time and costs in the planning system and result in better environmental (physical and social) outcomes for Aotearoa.

The design and implementation of these reforms will shape the next 30 or so years for New Zealand’s infrastructure development and operation. There is an opportunity for our members to contribute to the development of the NPF infrastructure content. We would welcome interest from potential working group members who are keen to work together to present a collective voice for the infrastructure provisions and other critical components. If you are interested, please get in touch at michelle.mccormick@infrastructure.org.nz.

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