Magazine article New Zealand Management

Re-Thinking the RMA

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Re-Thinking the RMA

Article excerpt

Politicians dragged the chain on changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 for several years, before rushing amendments into law last year. By then the reforms prepared when Simon Upton was Minister for the Environment had been stripped out of the legislation, however, and a host of fundamental issues was overlooked. The changes had been a long time coming and, as many feared, they did not go far enough to address the problems with the Act, Business Roundtable member Rob Fisher lamented in a speech (The Resource Management Amendment Act: is it too little, too late?) to the Institute of Management in September last year.

Fisher recognised that the 1991 RMA was groundbreaking legislation, a unique piece of planning and environment legislation which replaced a jumbled mess of around 50 natural resource and planning statutes and modified or repealed more than 150 other laws and regulations. He also recalled that business people generally warned the act would retard the economy.

Business leaders certainly rate the RMA high on their grievance list. They are critical of the costs, delays, uncertainty and inconsistencies in approach between local authorities and regional councils in the resource consent process.

The Business Roundtable is adamant the process has frustrated development and scared off investment. It cites the dearth of exploration activity in the hard-rock mining industry. Yet the two large open pit gold mines in Macraes Flat and at Waihi together have generated as much as $180 million in overseas earnings a year and provided 350 jobs.

More critically, the RMA is seen as an obstacle to development of the country's economic infrastructure--roads, power generation and so on.

Among the improvements sought by business people are constraints on vexatious parties who hold up the resource consents process and often thwart development. "These complainants and those objectors who object for the sake of objecting need to be weeded out," said Fisher.

Another grouch is use of the Act by businesses to restrict competition, a practice reflected in heavily contested applications for petrol stations and supermarkets where competitors raise environmental objections to knobble their rivals.

But hey. There is always another day for the politicians to get things right, and they have responded in recent months as the RMA has come under increasingly critical scrutiny. Prime Minister Helen Clark told Local Government New Zealand's conference in July amendments to the RMA are being prepared for introduction later this year. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.