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National’s reform programme has been about simplifying and streamlining RMA processes, providing stronger central government direction, and addressing problems in areas such as infrastructure, water and aquaculture.

Our proposals to revamp the resource management system make it easier to use, increase certainty and predictability, attract investment, and reduce unnecessary duplication and cost, while continuing to protect the environment.

Our phase 1 reforms involved 150 amendments to simplify and streamline the RMA, to reduce costs, uncertainties, and delays. This has improved outcomes for the environment, supported business investment, and encouraged stronger economic growth.

Our phase 2 reforms will reduce delays around medium-sized projects, improve freshwater management, and better manage natural hazard risks. We will also better align the RMA’s planning processes with transport and local government planning.

Phase Two

  • Resource Management Reform Bill – passed in August 2013.
  • The direct referral process allows notified resource consent applications to be decided by the Environment Court, rather than the relevant council. This means bypassing the council hearing stage.
  • Changes will see the direct referral process more readily available for proposals deemed as ‘major’ projects.
  • The bill introduces six month consenting for medium sized projects.
  • About 1600 medium-sized projects are processed each year, including new subdivisions, supermarkets, industrial developments, and infrastructure projects. 


  • Streamlined and simplified the Resource Management Act.
  • Oversaw significant improvements in consenting timelines, resulting in multi-billion dollar projects like Waterview and Transmission Gully being consented in just nine months, and late consent for small projects reduced from 31% in 2008 to 5% in 2011 – a fall of around 10,000 a year due to streamlining processes.
  • Formed the Environmental Reporting Authority to ensure better protection of our natural resources.
  • Twice legislated to ensure New Zealanders have the right to trim their own trees.
  • Introduced legislation to ensure council decisions on notified projects are made within six months.
  • Beefed up the requirement for robust cost-benefit analysis councils must undertake before putting in rules that restrict the way we use our land and resources.


The RMA reforms are likely to be proposed after the election. At this stage people will have a further opportunity to comment and submit on the reform proposals through the Select Committee process.