Environment Minister David Parker Announces Key Milestones
In a significant and noteworthy move towards implementing the new resource management system, Environment Minister David Parker has officially announced the issuance of a draft National Planning Framework (NPF) document under the recently enacted legislation.
This pivotal development marks a crucial step in streamlining national direction and consolidating existing instruments, including policy statements, standards, and other regulations, totaling around 20 in number.
NPF Unifies National Direction
The NPF signifies a significant and transformative shift in resource management by amalgamating various existing elements into a unified framework. Notably, the Infrastructure Commission has spearheaded a substantial endeavor, introducing a dedicated chapter on infrastructure, which is of particular note.
This chapter introduces standardized guidelines for activities such as sediment control, with a focus on simplifying the permitting process for activities, ultimately reducing the need for costly consents.
A Collaborative Effort
The creation of the NPF has been a substantial undertaking, and Minister Parker expressed his gratitude to all those involved in this endeavor, particularly acknowledging the contributions of the Infrastructure Commission. This transitional NPF will initially emphasize support for the development of new regional spatial strategies.
Local Government and Treaty Obligations
While local government will actively participate in implementing the NPF, it’s essential to recognize that successive governments, originating from the Resource Management Act, have endorsed obligations stemming from Treaty settlements, which will be incorporated into the new framework.
Next Steps and Public Engagement
The draft NPF, now released, will serve as the foundation for an initial engagement phase involving local government and Māori groups. Following this phase, the document will undergo public consultation in early 2024, facilitated by an independent board of inquiry led by former Chief Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook.
Flexibility in Legislative Changes
Minister Parker highlighted, moreover, that there would be no binding obligation on an incoming government to maintain the board of inquiry process if it chooses to repeal the Natural and Built Environment Act and revert to the Resource Management Act, which, notably, has faced criticism from the National Party over the years.
Addressing Water Allocation Issues
Additionally, the government is taking action to address water allocation issues, in line with its obligations and commitments. This includes the establishment of a Freshwater Working Group tasked with providing a report on water allocation concerns. The working group, mandated by law, is set to submit its report by October 31, 2024, reflecting a tight deadline.
Potential Reversal of Initiatives
Minister Parker acknowledged that any incoming government would have the authority to reverse these initiatives by modifying existing legislation, underscoring the evolving nature of resource management reforms.