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RMA reform and the new NBA

The Government is undertaking reform which will replace the Resource Management Act (RMA) with three new pieces of legislation:

  • Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) is the main replacement for the RMA.
  • Strategic Planning Act (SPA) will require the development of long-term regional spatial strategies.
  • Climate Adaptation Act (CAA) will address complex issues associated with managed retreat.

Timeline for RMA reform

Exposure draft of the NBA - June 2021

In June – August 2021, the Select Committee called for submission on the 'exposure draft' of the National and Built Environment Bill. This was not the complete bill but includes some of key purpose and principles of the new legislation, including the purpose of the NBA (inclusion of Te Tiriti o Waitangi clause) and related provisions.

Summary of the exposure draft of the NBA:

  • Set out the purpose of the NBA, which in short is to enable Te Oranga o te Taiao to be upheld by protecting and enhancing the natural environment, and to enable people and communities to use the environment in a way that supports the well-being of present generations without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.
  • Set out the requirement to set environmental limits that use of the environment must comply with.
  • Included a list of 16 environmental outcomes, which must be promoted.
  • There will be National Planning Framework. This will bring together national (Government) level direction, to provide integrated direction on national level issues.
  • At the region level, there will be Natural and Built Environments Plans. These will cover similar matters to district and regional plans under the RMA.

The exposure draft is available here: https://environment.govt.nz/assets/publications/Natural-and-Built-Environments-Bill-Exposure-Draft.pdf

Key points raised in HortNZ's submission

 HortNZ made a submission on the exposure draft and presented to the Select Committee to answer questions about our submission.

The key points raised in HortNZ’s submission included:

  • Seeking recognition that social, economic and cultural needs should be met within Natural Environmental Limits – including essential human health. Fruit and vegetables for domestic supply are essential for the human health of New Zealanders.
  • Support for an environmental outcome that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and requires national direction for greenhouse gas emissions. Diversification to horticulture presents an opportunity to reduce emissions, as identified by the climate change commission.
  • The exposure draft included an environmental outcome that promotes the protection of highly productive land from inappropriate subdivision. HortNZ’s submission sought that the NBA also promotes the use of highly productive land for food production, both for domestic and export.

Click here to read HortNZ's submission

What impact will the NBA have on growers?

The NBA will replace the resource management framework of the RMA (e.g. under the RMA - regional and district plans, and resource consents). Specific 'on-the-ground' implications are not yet clear.

Until the new legislation is passed into law, the RMA continues to apply as usual (as we expect that there will be a transitional period).

Background to RMA review and reform

Background to RMA review and reform

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) provides the legal framework for our resource management system – setting out systems and process for decision-making relating to the environment.

The RMA framework includes national (government) level policy as well as, at the local level – Regional and District Plans. Regional and District Plans determine whether an activity requires resource consent.

  • Central Government administers the RMA, provides national direction (through NPS and NES) and respond to national priorities. Making decisions under the RMA is usually the responsibility of local authorities.
  • District/City Councils manage the effects of land use, noise, subdivision. They have District Plans and issue resource consents.
  • Regional Councils manage discharges of contaminants to land, air or water, water quality and quantity. They have Regional Plans and issue resource consents (discharge permit, water permits).

Click here to find out more about the RMA.

There is a general consensus that the RMA has not sufficiently protected the environment, while also not achieving good outcomes for urban areas. The RMA has a focus on managing adverse effects, rather than providing positive direction for the management of the environment.

Find out more on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

An independent panel - Resource Management Review Panel - was established by the Government to undertake a comprehensive review of the Resource Management Act and other significant legislation comprising the resource management system. 

HortNZ made a submission on the Issues and options paper in February 2020 - click here to read the submission.

The Panel's final report ('New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand') identifies the main issues to be addressed in the reform process and offers possible ways in which they might be addressed.