From Penk’s Pen

RMA: Repeal, Replace, Rejoice
Today’s column is brought to you by the letters ‘R’, ‘M’ and ‘A’.
There aren’t many issues on which all mainstream political parties agree but the need to reform the Resource Management Act is surely one. Based on countless conversations with constituents these past three years, I’d say that the repeal and replacement of this particular piece of legislation would be almost universally popular.
Passed with good intentions in 1991, the RMA has evolved in ways that have seen its processes become ever more complicated, cumbersome and costly. Its aim was to promote sustainable development by balancing environmental protection with socially acceptable outcomes, including economic growth. These are all very worthy ideals but the reality has been somewhat different on the ground.
Problems with the supply of land for housing have bedevilled successive governments, with frustration felt across the board. Central and local government alike – together with citizens young and old – have struggled to break free from the RMA’s metaphorical red tape, all while genuinely needed infrastructure remains lacking.
Both of the major political parties have undertaken to move the nation beyond the RMA’s grip on what’s often described as “urban planning”. Of course that term that fails to take into account the need for good governance of rural land too, a point that should not be lost on Wellington-based policy advisors.
A month ago, a 600-page review of the RMA was produced. Known as the Randerson Report, it recommended two new pieces of legislation be introduced: a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act.
These changes would effectively split the RMA in half to help recognise the need to reconcile strategic long-term perspectives with the need for immediacy in decision-making.
Given how many residents within the boundaries of the Helensville electorate have sought the help of my office in relation to RMA issues, I hope that everyone interested in the subject looks into the political parties’ respective plans in this space, ahead of the election.

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