Dunedin City Council staff still have serious concerns
about the resource management system reform document released
recently, despite changes made to it following consultation.
Staff say the changes have all but ignored the submissions of
councils and they still expect the reforms, which have been
outlined only generally in the document, to have limited
benefits for people using the Resource Management Act (RMA),
and not inconsiderable set-up costs for the council.
Council resource consent manager Alan Worthington stopped
short of saying the Government had ignored the feedback it
received on its discussion document.
He said the council could only form a firm opinion on the
impacts of the proposed changes once it had seen the detail
of the Resource Management Reform Bill, which is to be
introduced by the end of the year.
He said the council made a submission on the discussion
document earlier in the year, and was party to a joint
submission from five Otago councils.
The comments the council made in those submissions were still
He said it still had major concerns about the costs of the
changes to ratepayers and customers, a reduction in public
participation, and serious doubts about whether the changes
would achieve the intended outcomes.
He said the council was proactively preparing for the changes
through the development of its second generation district
plan and had already incorporated some of the proposed
It was also starting a comprehensive engagement process with
other territorial authorities and key stakeholders, including
Manawhenua, around the plan's development.
The council was taking its lead on structuring the plan from
Auckland, based on that being a likely direction of any
The council's biggest concern about the reforms was the
unknown of what might be done with a suggested national
template and the potential for nationally directed ''common
content'', he said.
''We do have major concerns about any nationally imposed
changes that might override locally agreed content, both in
terms of the erosion of local decision-making and the
significant costs to make the changes.''
The changes proposed were also expected to have limited
benefits for those making applications for consents and be
costly for councils.
Experience had shown, for example, that time was not so
critical for simple applications (for example, to build a
deck close to a boundary) that they would benefit from a
10-day fast-track consent requirement instead of the current
maximum of 20 days.
Activities that were now controlled might have to be changed
to a more restricted category because 10 days might not be
enough time consider the proposal (for example, an
application to build a new building in a precinct).
That would unlikely result in any meaningful benefits in time
or cost to the applicant, Mr Worthington said.
It would also cost the council to change systems and
practices, and there was potential for a fast track to make a
simple consent be seen as more important than a more
significant non-notified consent with a processing time of up
to 20 days.
Exempting very minor breaches from resource consents, as
suggested, would only stop the need for a very small number
of resource consents, and in time the same question might be
raised again once the new line in the sand became old.
Another new suggestion, changing to the presumption
subdivision could be a permitted activity, would not have an
immediate impact because the council's district plan required
a resource consent.
He noted that as recently as June, the Government identified
land banking as a significant issue, but had removed it from
the RMA reform document, despite it potentially having been
the option that could have had the greatest benefit for
''It would be good to further explore this challenging
problem,'' Mr Worthington said.
The council and public could have further input into the
Resource Management Reform Bill during the select committee