Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday release of the Resource Management Act national monitoring system data highlighted the need for reform of the act. The image above is a slice of the monitoring report infographic.
“This monitoring report highlights how slow our planning system is, with the average time for a council plan taking more than 8 years and for a council plan change 4 years. This cumbersome process means councils cannot respond to changing society needs such as the sharp shift in housing demand from the lull of 2010 to the boom of 2015.
“It is crucial to resolving issues like housing that we have a far more responsive planning system. The Government’s second phase of Resource Management Act reform, currently before Parliament, provides the option for councils to adopt a streamlined planning process which will enable councils to achieve plan changes in 6 months.”
Dr Smith said the 2015 national monitoring system data & a new online tool opened up access to Resource Management Act statistics for the first time: “The data will help the Ministry for the Environment see which parts of the act processes are causing delays, where inconsistency in council practices is a problem, and identify best practice. For the first time, the ministry has detailed information on more than 42,000 resource consent applications & 359 plan-making processes.
“This new, open reporting on the Resource Management Act, alongside the Government’s legislative reforms, also helps improve performance. Councils & communities need to compare their performance around environmental compliance & costs of processing this for plans & consents and help drive better practice.”
Dr Smith said changes in the Government’s first phase of Resource Management Act reforms had improved processing: “We’ve seen the number of late consents drop from 16,017 in 2007-08 to 1260 in 2014-15. We still have some issues with the efficiency of consent processing, with 19% requiring time extensions and 32% further information requests. More than 360 consents received a discount on their consent costs of [a total] $457,321 where councils did not meet statutory timeframes for processing.
“I am also encouraged by the increased levels of compliance with resource consent conditions, with 88% of those monitored being compliant. We still have more work to do in ensuring the act delivers good outcomes for the environment while minimising the restrictions & costs on businesses & homeowners.
“There is also work to do to reduce processing costs of $76 million for the 40,000-plus annual resource consents. There are significant savings to be made from reducing the number of notified consents, which cost 5 times those of non-notified. Even the average $1929 bill for a non-notified consent can be excessive when it involves a minor change in boundary or height rules. The proposal to enable councils to waive the requirement for some consents over many minor issues would be a relief to homeowners, where the consent cost can exceed the building cost. There are also significant benefits for the environment and costs of the Resource Management Act with greater use of national standards.”
Attribution: Ministerial release.