Local government supports sensible change to the RMA

22 Jan 2015

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has welcomed change to the RMA signalled by Hon Dr Nick Smith in his annual speech to Nelson Rotary yesterday and looks forward to working with the Government to implement these changes.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said local government supports the direction of travel the Minister has signalled.

“Local government’s role is to implement the Resource Management Act.  As such, local authorities want a law that is simpler and less complex to manage, and one that provides better outcomes for both communities and the economy,” says Mr Yule.

“There is too much process prescribed by the current RMA and the Motu report, also released alongside Dr Smith’s speech, now puts a cost on this.  Instead, we need an Act that creates more affordable housing, builds jobs and creates business and economic growth, within an environment of managing our vital natural resources.”

LGNZ agrees that we need to find ways to give stakeholders and communities better certainty and avoid costly litigation.

“We have long said that the process to make or change local rules is too time consuming.  Removing the ability to appeal a council decision on plans will achieve certainty for all parties more quickly.  The Motu report notes how important certainty is, that there is a cost when we don’t have this,” says Mr Yule.

LGNZ also says that the RMA needs substantial work to get a better balance between development and environmental protection, and between consistent national direction and local variation.

“Looking at housing in particular, the RMA needs to better provide for urban development but within environmental limits.  We’re advocating for a faster, simpler model such as that under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act that many councils have adopted.” says Mr Yule.

“But also, let’s not lose sight of why regulations are in place: our communities value heritage, views of significant places and sunlight to adjoining properties.  Communities want to be involved in shaping where they live and work.”

Mr Yule says councils across New Zealand will be working collaboratively with the Government to shape, simplify, reduce and remove unnecessary rules; and put in place new provisions to enable local government to proactively manage natural hazard risk, including coastal erosion and flooding.