The dawn of a new RMA-less planning environment

Property Council has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Environment Minister, David Parker, that the Government plans to repeal and replace the Resource Management Act (RMA) with three pieces of legislation:

  • Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) to provide for land use and environmental regulation (this would be the primary replacement for the RMA);
  • Strategic Planning Act (SPA) to integrate with other legislation relevant to development, and require long-term regional spatial strategies;
  • Climate Change Adaptation Act (CAA) to address complex issues associated with managed retreat and funding and financing adaptation.

Eagle-eyed readers may recall that 2020’s Randerson Report recommended just two new pieces of legislation and we will watch with interest as each piece of legislation is drafted and consulted on.

The long road to reform

Property Council has lobbied for reform of the resource management system for many years, acting as a key catalyst for change in 2016 when we joined forces with traditionally “opposition” groups the Environmental Defence Society, the Employers and Manufacturers Association, and NZCID (now known as Infrastructure NZ) to publish a report evaluating the environmental outcomes of the RMA, which found that no-one was being well-served by the current act.

The key complaint by property developers with regards to the RMA was that it introduced a lot of uncertainty about how long it would take to get consent, the terms that will be imposed, and how much money it will cost to get there. The study brought home how this added complexity did nothing to improve environmental indicators, like biodiversity and freshwater quality, which were getting worse every year. Off the back of this research, Resource Reform New Zealand (RRNZ) was born. This entity brought together the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Environmental Defence Society (EDS), Property Council New Zealand, Infrastructure New Zealand and BusinessNZ. The group would go on to be instrumental in highlighting the inadequacies of the current legislation, with dozens of submissions, hundreds of meetings and a firm, united approach.

It has been a long road to reform, and it will be a similarly long road for the new legislation to be in place and creating positive change, but we are looking forward to seeing what the coming months bring.

Proposed timeline

  • May 2021: An exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environment Bill will be agreed by Cabinet and then referred to a special select committee inquiry.
  • June to September 2021: A special select committee inquiry will consider this exposure draft. The Strategic Planning Bill and Climate Change Adaptation Bill will be developed in a parallel process with the latter managed out of the Minister for Climate Change office.
  • Dec 2021: The Natural and Built Environments Bill and the Strategic Planning Bill will be introduced to Parliament in late 2021. A standard select committee process will consider them. The Climate Change Adaptation Act will be developed in a similar timeframe.
  • December 2022: It is intended that all three pieces of legislation are passed by the end of 2022.

Our advocacy team, led by Senior Advocacy Advisor Liam Kernaghan, will be managing Property Council’s campaign on the reform in conjunction with our member working group. All members are welcome to contact Liam should they wish to get involved.


Contact | Liam Kernaghan

Southerner Liam is no stranger to politics, with a Bachelor of Arts and Laws from the University of Otago, where his thesis was titled ‘Rethinking Reform: Constitutional Reform Processes in New Zealand’, there was little chance of him not entering the political sphere. He backed up his studies with a stint as Ministerial Advisor to Hon Amy Adams and bounced around the halls of Parliament for a few years in advisory roles for several leaders of the Opposition.

Liam is spearheading Property Council’s resource management reform and climate change campaigns. He also represents our South Island and Wellington members in their specific advocacy initiatives. Energetic, personable, with a fierce wit and ability to make the complex seem simple, Liam is a valued addition to the team.

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