First bill to amend the Resource Management Act is focused on the primary sector

  • Legal update

    24 April 2024

First bill to amend the Resource Management Act is focused on the primary sector  Desktop Image First bill to amend the Resource Management Act is focused on the primary sector  Mobile Image

The Minister for RMA Reform has outlined further details on the first Resource Management Act Amendment Bill. The Bill, expected to be introduced to Parliament in May, will make changes that are most relevant to the primary sector. However, it may also have wider implications as the Minister announced that it will also “speed up and simplify the process to make or amend National Direction which is currently unnecessary onerous, costly, and takes too long.”

The Government has already announced that it is committed to replacing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) and has extended the statutory deadline for councils to notify freshwater planning instruments to implement the NPS-FM by three years.

Further to our previous Alert, the first Amendment Bill will enable targeted changes to the NPS-FM, amend stock exclusion and repeal intensive winter grazing regulations, suspend the requirement for councils to identify new Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) under the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) for three years, and align the consenting process for coal mining with other mining activities in the NPS-IB, NPS-FM, and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F).

The targeted amendments include:

Removing the requirement to follow Te Mana o te Wai
While the NPS-FM is being reviewed and replaced, resource consent applicants will no longer need to show that their proposed activities follow the Te Mana o te Wai hierarchy of obligations under the NPS-FM.

Reducing regulation and cost for farmers
The use of low slope maps to decide where stock should be excluded from is to be replaced by existing non-regulatory measures, and the requirement for farmers to obtain winter grazing consents will be removed in time for the 2025 season.

Aligning consent processes for mining activities
The consent process for coal mining is to be aligned with other mining activities under the NPS-IB, NPS-FM, and NES-F. 

Suspending requirement for new Significant Natural Areas
The identification of new SNAs required under the NPS-IB will be suspended for a period of three years while the Government replaces the RMA. 

We will provide further details when the Bill is introduced to Parliament next month.

Please reach out to one of our experts in the Resource Management and Planning Team if you would like more information about the reform programme and how it might affect you.