Understanding the Resource Management Act

There are few things in New Zealand politics that are more likely to get me on a full blown rant than the idea that the Resource Management Act should be overhauled. I rarely use the word “rant” in a blog because I make a deliberate effort to keep the content of my posts logical and based on sound facts without getting overly emotive. I use it here, because I can blast out a lengthy spiel with very little effort on the subject.

But if you were actually expecting a rant today, you are plum out of luck. I write the following in an effort to lay down  some very basic facts about the R.M.A. in a way that people can understand. I will lay down the key sections of the Act and the rationale for their existence.

Section 5 deals with the purpose of the Act – 5(1) deals with the the purpose, which is to promote sustainable management of natural and physical resources. This is the core of the Act and everything else in it revolves around this section.

Section 6 deals with matters of national significance. This allows for issues such fresh

Section 7 deals with other matters of national significance.

Section 8 deals with the requirement of people exercising the functions and powers of the R.M.A. to take into consideration the Treaty of Waitangi principles.

Section 87 deals with the type of resource consents that can be applied for.

Section 88 deals with a private individual such as you the reader or myself making a Resource Consent application.

Section 92 deals with requests for more information. This is in instances where you might not have supplied sufficient data in your application for the consent authority (City/District/Regional Council)to make a decision, and they send a letter, e-mail or make a phone call asking for further data. A general rule of thumb is that a resource consent application to build a house is going to be a lot simpler than a resource consent application to build a dam across a big river.

Sections 95-95E deal with how and when to publicly notify a resource consent application. This happens if the application is for an activity that is big enough to have public safety, interest issues, etc.

Sections 104A-D deal with the classes of activity under the Act (excluding permitted and prohibited activities)

The first four sections mentioned are the most important parts of the Act, the parts that politicians get fired up about for various reasons. All are necessary for its successful function as the backbone of New Zealand’s environmental planning framework.

I do not expect people to read all 828 pages of the current version of the Act. But I get annoyed when people with obviously little understanding of the form and function of the Act say it should be repealed but cannot find facts to back up their argument. Which unfortunately includes much of Parliament.

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