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Ten Years Of The RMA

The Resource Management Act is proving effective in a situation where tension and disagreement will always exist, regardless of the shape of legislation, Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs, said today.

The RMA is 10 years old today and when it became law on October 1, 1991, was widely recognised as a ground-breaking framework for achieving sustainability.

"Ten years later, the Act is now firmly established as the key piece of legislation that enables communities to manage their environment," Marian Hobbs said.

"Resource management is about balancing the different needs and wants of people with protecting the natural environment. Sometimes there is disagreement about the use of those resources. But if you provide the people with a way to have their say, as the RMA does, there will inevitably be disagreements.

"The same would be true regardless of how the Act was structured.

"The RMA replaced over 50 laws and statutes for water and soil conservation, town and country planning, coastal and geothermal management, air quality and noise.

"Often, the tension and the ¡¥horror stories¡¦ surrounding the Act can overshadow its success. We must recognise that it has been largely successful, achieving a great deal in the last 10 years to improve the environment we live in.

"Sewage discharges have been cleaned up, old rubbish tips closed, business is taking responsibility for the environment and we know more about the state of the environment and how we affect it. Also, many regional councils have undertaken planning to improve air and water quality across the country.

"Increased flexibility for business and more opportunity for public participation have been major aims of the RMA.

"Responsible businesses have embraced these opportunities, finding that doing their homework and getting neighbours on board has led to a smooth process and good outcomes ƒ{ not just for their business, but also for the environment.

"We can always do better, and this government is committed to improving the performance, not only of the Act, but of those responsible for implementing it.

"The RMA is not intended to stifle sensible development and innovation, but rather to ensure that if there are environmental effects from a development or similar, they are managed appropriately.

"While this means that activities with large environmental effects will be scrutinised closely and may take time, critics choose to overlook the fact that 48,000 consents were issued last year. For the vast majority of people, getting a resource consent is anything but difficult, and criticisms about delays and costs need to be considered in the right context.¡¨


A function will be held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the RMA at the Wellington City Gallery, Civic Square on Monday 1st October 6-8pm.

Speakers include the Minister for The Environment, Hon Marian Hobbs, Lindsay Gow (Acting Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment), Sir Geoffrey Palmer (introduced the RM Bill in 1989), Judge Allin (Principal Environment Court Judge) and Margaret Shields from Local Government New Zealand.

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