By: Amanda Douglas
Published: 17/06/2013
On 11 June 2013, the Local Government and Environment Select Committee released its report on the Resource Management Reform Bill with a majority recommendation that it be passed with amendment.

The objectives of the omnibus Bill are to streamline the delivery of Auckland's first combined plan, streamline the resource consent regime, boost the quality of local decision making, and generally improve the Resource Management Act.  The Bill proposes to achieve these objectives through amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991, Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010, and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

A majority of the Select Committee has recommended amendments:
  • Specifying that consent and territorial authorities would be party to Environment Court proceedings on direct referrals, designations and heritage orders, and requiring them to be available to give evidence regarding their reports;
  • Making it clear that the "grounds upon which" an Environment Court application is made refers to the grounds upon which an application for a directly referred resource consent is made, or the grounds upon which an application for confirmation of the requirement is made;
  • To the provisions for the promulgation of regulations under the Resource Management Act;
  • Requiring section 32(2)(a)(i) RMA evaluation reports to include reference to opportunities for economic growth that are "anticipated to be provided or reduced" rather than those that are expected to "cease to be available" (this would cover both positive and negative change);
  • Restricting the ability of the Minister for the Environment to recommend regulations regarding preparation of the first Auckland combined plan;
  • Changes to the timeframe provisions for processing consents, to avoid unintended adverse effects on local authorities;
  • To clarify district plan rules relating to tree management;
  • To the Auckland Combined Plan process which will be included in the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010.
The Bill will now be set down for its second reading in Parliament.  If passed, further submissions will be called for.
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