Minister Parker has given a third update on reform, focusing on environmental protection. MfE officials also gave a general update on RM Reform for NZPI members. 


We asked for your opinion on what was shared at these events and here’s what you had to say:

Q1. National environmental limits to protect ecological integrity and human health.

When asked to comment on national limits the majority of survey respondents (55%) considered mandatory national-level environmental limits will be partly effective at protecting ecological integrity and human health. This indicates some uncertainty amongst respondents. A further 24% consider these limits will be effective, with just 6% considering they will be very effective. Your comments suggest that while targets are an important first step, they will need to be clear, stringent and enforceable. Some of you question ‘who will set the limits?’ and whether we have sufficient scientific baselines to support them. You’ve told us the regions can be vastly different and this could impact on how limits are applied.

Q2. Regional environmental targets.

When asked about local and regional targets for bringing about improvements in ecological integrity and human health, the overall response was similar to Q1. There’s some uncertainty over the effectiveness of local and regional targets, with the majority (58%) considering they’ll be partly effective. A further 22% consider targets will be effective, with just 3% considering they will be very effective.

Your comments reinforce the importance of targets ‘having teeth’. You said they need to be stringent with credible timeframes, properly monitored and sufficiently funded. Respondents shared the view that the national targets should provide the context and the regional targets lend credibility to what needs to be achieved at a regional and local level. If the structure is set up right you consider that they’ll be critical in reflecting community expectations and provide connections with local communities, iwi and hāpu. At both national and regional level there’s concern about developer lobbying over limits and targets and the need to hold the line.

Q3. A new system focused on outcomes for the environment.

Respondents are supportive of the new system’s focus on outcomes with 31% who strongly support and 29% support (a total of 60%). A further 23% partly support this change. Only 15% of respondents were neutral or did not support the focus on outcomes. Many respondents consider that the current RMA framework should’ve delivered an outcomes focus, had well written objectives and policies been adhered to, and planners had been able to manage the inevitable conflicting outcomes at the consenting stage. You support a system focused on outcomes and suggest that the proposed system provides more mandate to consider cumulate effects.

Q4. A more efficient, effective and less complex consenting system.

The response to this question was mixed, indicating a level of uncertainty over these changes. 35% of respondents considered that the changes will be partly effective at achieving the objective of the reform focused on improving system efficiency and effectiveness, reducing complexity, and retaining appropriate local democratic input. 28% consider the changes will be effective and only 6% consider they will be very effective. 18% of respondents consider that the changes won’t be effective at all.

You support more clarity around what will be notified, shifting this decision to the plan-making stage. Some are sceptical and suggest that existing costs and delays are caused by disagreements about information requirements or applications that have had no regard for objectives and policies. One view is that applications will only get more complex as we see an increase in site density.

Q5. Transition and staging.

The transition is top of mind for most of you working in the planning profession. The Government proposes transition occurs sequentially in accordance with the plan hierarchy, with the National Planning Framework coming first, followed by Regional Spatial Strategies, followed by Natural and Built Environments Plans, followed by consenting under the new system. When asked to comment on this sequence for transition you said:

There’s clear support from respondents for the new system to be rolled out in accordance with the planning hierarchy. 57% of respondents indicated it was very important and 23% indicated it was important (total of 80%). Your comments suggest that this hierarchy could’ve worked under the RMA, had the national policy statements been ‘right the first time’. You think the rollout could be faster than proposed and that work on RSSs shouldn’t be delayed while the NPF is being developed.

Q6. Other comments.

You had some general comments too. You’ve suggested the timeframe around the climate change adaption plan should align with the timeframes for the NPF, RSS, and NBA processes. You’re generally positive about change, although you still seek further information to fully understand the proposed outcomes.

Once again we appreciate your feedback!