Details of the Government's proposed overhaul of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) have been released.

Following on from Phase One of the overhaul, the repeal of the Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the introduction of the Fast-Track Approvals Bill (discussed here), Cabinet has confirmed that RMA reform will continue as follows:

Phase Two
  • An initial RMA amendment bill will be introduced in May 2024, which will include clarification of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM), longer consent terms for marine farms, and ceasing the implementation of new Significant Natural Areas under the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity 2023
  • A second amendment bill will follow later this year, making the currently mandatory Medium Density Residential Standards optional, require councils to unlock a 30-year supply of land and extend the scope of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development to mixed-use land.  This bill will also implement the Government's 'Electrify New Zealand' Policy intended to double the amount of renewable electricity produced in New Zealand
  • Reviewing, amending or developing national direction instruments in a consolidated process including a full review of the NPS-FM over 18 to 24 months, prioritising development and investment in infrastructure and primary industries while achieving good environmental outcomes.
Phase Three
  • Finally, a full repeal and replacement of the RMA, with the new legislation to be founded on the enjoyment of property rights.  The replacement bill or bills are expected to be introduced to Parliament in mid-2025 and passed into law by the end of 2025. 

This is a substantial programme of work, with potentially significant implications for all participants in the resource management system.  There will be opportunities to provide formal input into all of these processes.

Our national environment and resource management team has been closely following the development of the new legislation, and its likely implications.  Please contact a member of our team if you would like to make a submission on the Fast-Track Approvals Bill, or if you would like to discuss the reforms more broadly.