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Discussion paper

Transforming the resource management system: opportunities for change

Issues and options paper
Natural resources Natural resource management Environmental management Land use Urban planning New Zealand

The New Zealand government has agreed to undertake a comprehensive review of the resource management system. The review aims “to improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban and other development within environmental limits”. The Cabinet papers setting out the scope and process for the review and the terms of reference for the panel are available on the Ministry for the Environment website.

As per the terms of reference, the review has a dual focus: improving outcomes for the natural environment and improving urban and other development outcomes. The underlying causes of poor outcomes are wide ranging: the legislation, the ways it has been implemented and how the institutions are arranged. In seeking to improve these outcomes, the review will need to ensure provisions for central and local government decision-making, iwi/Māori and broader public involvement are fit for purpose.

The review is expected to resolve debate on key issues, including the possibility of separating statutory provision for land use planning from environmental protection of air, water, soil and biodiversity. It will consider a wide range of options, including whether important principles in the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) should be in a separate piece of legislation and apply more broadly across the resource management system. It will begin enabling a new role for spatial planning.

This paper starts a conversation about issues to be considered and addressed by the review and some initial thoughts on possible options. It seeks comments from stakeholders and iwi/Māori to inform the development of the panel’s proposals for reform.

The primary review deliverable is a final report due with the Minister for the Environment at the end of May 2020. There will be further engagement with stakeholders, iwi/Māori and the public on the development of the Government’s proposals for reform following the release of the final report.

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