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A Step Towards a New Resource Management System: Introducing the Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill

The Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA) has long operated as Aotearoa's predominant environmental legislation – with the primary objective to promote and safeguard sustainable management of our natural and physical resources.  However, the current system has brought to light a number of flaws that now require reform.  The Government has introduced the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill – which together make up two of the three components that will replace the RMA and ultimately act as our new resource management system.  The Climate Adaption Bill is the third and last component of our new system which will be introduced in the upcoming year.

Key elements of reform

The purpose of the new resource management system is to:

  • Administer an "intergenerational test" to all Aotearoa people.  This concept is adopted from Te Oranga o te Taiao, a Te Ao Māori concept that emphasises the interconnectedness of all environmental factors as well as the connection between the health of the natural environment and its ability to sustain life;
  • Shift the focus from managing adverse effects to enhancing the promotion of positive outcomes;
  • Provide further recognition of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles;
  • Create a new framework with specific provisions for freshwater in  the natural and built environments plans; and
  • Implement consolidation of new duties within the National Planning Framework.

In addition, the Spatial Planning Bill proposes long term and strategic spatial planning throughout Aotearoa through the creation of “Region Spatial Strategies”.  These strategies will offer the vision and objectives for region growth and change over a 30-year timeframe and will detail the needs and aspirations of regions, including areas that require high level of protection or restoration.

Have your say

Both the Natural and Built Environment and Spatial Planning Bills are open for submissions to the select committee.  The closing date for submissions is Monday, 30 January 2023.

If you would like assistance with making a submission or advice about how the new resource management system might affect you, please contact Kuru Ketu, an Associate in our Kahurangi Team, on 07 958 7475.

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