National has announced plans for further and much-needed improvements to the Resource Management Act.
Environment Minister Nick Smith said the first round of reforms are working well and the focus now is on getting better performance for medium-sized notified applications by requiring that decisions be made within six months.
“It is unacceptable that many of the 1800 notified consents covering new factories, commercial buildings, subdivisions and regional infrastructure take much longer than a year to resolve. These delays cost jobs, impose significant holding costs and cause frustration for all concerned. It is nonsensical that projects take longer to consent than they actually take to build.”
Entrepreneurs and business people know that time is money, too many council staff involved in the processing of consents don’t appear to understand that.
The Prime Minister and Dr Smith announced National’s Resource Management policy at the site of a $15 million new four-level building by Major Property Tauranga Ltd that took nearly two years to get a resource consent. The project is now going ahead with the first tower cranes in Tauranga in five years.
“Our concern is not the final decisions from the RMA but the time it takes for a decision to be made. We can’t have bureaucratic processes holding up these sorts of developments when we have the building industry holding out for more work,” Dr Smith said.
“Our next phase of reforms will also address problems identified from the Christchurch earthquakes over natural hazard management. It is unsatisfactory that new subdivisions were approved in Christchurch without any consideration of known liquefaction risks. A new requirement will be for councils to consider natural hazard risks like earthquakes.
“We also want to simplify the plan making process as it is too slow and cumbersome. Auckland
will not prosper if, as predicted under the current Act, it takes 15 years to complete a new Unitary Resource Management Plan for the city. . . .”
Planned changes include simplifying the planning processes of the Resource Management, Land Transport and Local Government Acts as well as tighter timeframes for plan making.
“Our plans for a second substantive phase of changes to the Resource Management Act contrast with Labour who has no ideas for reform and accepts the status quo as acceptable. New Zealand
cannot afford to ignore the real problems the RMA causes for those wanting to invest and create jobs.”
The Resource Management is generally good in theory but it can lead to prolonged and unnecessary delays in practice.
The implementation of these improvements would reduce the time and money wasted as applications wend their way through the consent process.
Simplifying and speeding up the planning and consent process will contribute to productivity which is one of the ingredients in improving economic growth.