The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (Bill) has now been reported back and has the votes to pass. It has taken more than a year to get to this stage.
We report on what the Bill will do, and on the latest round of amendments.
The “National Planning Template" concept has survived the select committee process. The Committee has renamed these instruments “National Planning Standards", and clarified that they may prescribe both structural and content requirements for local policy statements and plans.
The Bill will also create a single process for preparing National Environmental Standards and National Policy Statements (now referred to as “national directions").
However, the Committee has scaled back the Minister's ability to issue regulations that impose specific planning rules, limiting the use of this power to prohibit rules that duplicate or overlap with other legislation.
The Committee has strengthened the provisions for “iwi participation arrangements" – now referred to as “Mana Whakahono a Rohe" – by enabling iwi to initiate negotiations rather than waiting for an invitation from the relevant Council.
Plan making procedures
The Committee has retained the “collaborative" and “streamlined" plan making procedures initially proposed, with some increases to the scope of public submissions and appeal rights.
The amended Bill provides for limited notification for certain plan changes and variations.
The Committee has retained the prohibition on Environment Court appeals relating to residential applications, and certain boundary activities and subdivisions.
Changes it has recommended to this area of the Bill are:
- scrapping the proposed categories of persons eligible for notification of consent applications in favour of largely reverting to the existing “affected person" test under the Resource Management Act (RMA), and
- softening the mandatory strike out procedure for certain submissions so that it is now framed as a discretionary power for consent authorities.
Chapman Tripp comment
The key theme of increased central government direction for local planning matters has been retained in the Bill, albeit to a lesser extent than first proposed. So have the proposed reductions in the scope of public participation and appeal rights, although – again – the extent of the reform has been narrowed.
The Bill will now proceed to its second reading before the House of Representatives. Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First have each released highly critical minority reports calling for the Bill to be halted but National has the Māori Party's support to get the reforms over the line.