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Briefing to the Incoming Minister for the Environment

Briefing to the Incoming Minister for the Environment

Briefing to the Incoming Minister for the Environment

Friday 9 March, 2018

The Honourable David Parker

MfE prepared two BIMs, one on the environment portfolio generally and one specifically relevant to water issues: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/feature/briefings-incoming-ministers-environment 

MfE’s key briefing notes to the Minister included an overall observation that decision-making and planning under the RMA are not performing to Government or community expectations.  The reasons for this, in MfE’s eyes, are numerous but include: variability of capacity and capability at local government level; variability of decision maker accountability and independence; and misalignment of funding and system benefits at national, regional and local levels.  MfE concluded that significant reform, taking between three and five years, is required to address this non-performance.  Short term options could include greater central Government support and oversight of local government implementation of the RMA and promotion of the streamlined planning process provided in the 2017 amendments to the First Schedule of the RMA.

Other MfE recommendations to the Minister included:

  • Change the current ‘first in, first served’ approach to water allocation to promote equity and highest value use in the allocation of the fresh water resource, including through regional council plan changes to implement the Freshwater NPS and expansion of regional council powers under the RMA to review consents in over-allocated catchments;
  • Enhance management of three waters infrastructure to cope with increased urban demand and higher intensity rainfall events, including through exploration of the establishment of a central water infrastructure regulator and introduction of mandatory treatment of all drinking water;
  • Expand the scope of the NES for Air Quality to include a broader range of contaminants;
  • Develop a national direction on biodiversity management;
  • Publish guidance on natural hazards, including coastal hazards and climate change, to assist local government to actively manage natural hazard risk; and
  • Transition towards a make-use-return approach to waste management, including through the staged expansion of waste disposal levies across additional classes of landfills.


Our thanks to Karla Kereopa for contributing to this article.

Please contact Theresa Le Bas if you want to learn more about the issues discussed in this article.

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