Item not on the Agenda
Strategy and Policy Committee
14 February 2023
Julie Bevan, Policy & Planning Manager; Adam Fort, Principal Advisor - Strategic Planning and Rachel Boyte, Legal Counsel
Namouta Poutasi, General Manager, Strategy & Science
To confirm the final submissions to the Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill
The Spatial Planning Bill (SP Bill) and Natural and Built Environment Bill (NBE Bill) were introduced to Parliament on 15 November 2022 for submissions that will be referred to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee.
The NBE Bill repeals and replaces the Resource Management Act 1991, working in tandem with the Spatial Planning Bill. The SP Bill provides for the development and implementation of long-term, strategic spatial planning through the development of regional spatial strategies.
This report seeks a decision to confirm the final Bay of Plenty Regional Council submissions to the NBE Bill and SP Bill.
Further, a submission has been developed jointly with Kawerau District Council, Ōpōtiki District Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, Taupō District Council, Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Whakatāne District Council and ourselves. This report also seeks endorsement of the Bay of Plenty councils’ submission.
That the Strategy and Policy Committee:
1 Receives the report, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill Submissions and accepts it as an Item not on the Agenda. Notes the reason why this item was not on the Agenda is that time needed to incorporate feedback received on the draft submission versions meant that the Item was not ready when the Agenda was finalised, and the reason why it cannot be delayed is that the submissions must be lodged by 19 February.
2 Endorses and confirms for lodgement of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council submissions on the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill.
3 Notes that if any changes result from this meeting and/or minor editorial changes or corrections are required to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council submissions, these will be incorporated before lodgement with the approval of the Strategy & Policy Committee Chair.
4 Endorses and confirms for lodgement the Bay of Plenty councils’ submission on the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill.
5 Notes that any changes resulting from this meeting and/or from further partner feedback will be incorporated before lodgement with the approval of the Strategy & Policy Committee Chair.
The Spatial Planning Bill (SP Bill) and Natural and Built Environment Bill (NBE Bill) were introduced to Parliament on 15 November 2022 for submissions that will be referred to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee. The Climate Change Adaptation Bill is likely to follow in 2023.
The NBE Bill repeals and replaces the Resource Management Act 1991, working in tandem with the SP Bill. Like the RMA, the NBA will be an integrated statute for land use and environmental protection.
The SP Bill provides a more strategic and coordinated approach to long-term regional planning. It will require spatial planning at the regional level through the development of regional spatial strategies.
Diagram from Ministry for the Environment Website
1.1 Alignment with Strategic Framework
A Vibrant Region
We contribute to delivering integrated planning and growth management strategies especially for sustainable urban management.
The Way We Work
We use robust information, science and technology.
We honour our obligations to Māori.
The delivery of submissions to the the NBE Bill the SP Bill are to provide relevant feedback and suggestions to encourage amendments to the Bills that ensure achieving positive outcomes, particularly for the natural environment to ensure achieving Council’s strategic planning and policy direction.
2. Summary of Submissions
2.1 Natural Built Environment Bill
The purpose of the NBE Bill updates the RMA’s focus on sustainable management to:
· enable the use, development, and protection of the environment in a way that:
· supports the well-being of present generations without compromising the well-being of future generations; and
· promotes outcomes for the benefit of the environment; and
· complies with environmental limits and their associated targets; and
· manages adverse effects; and
· recognises and upholds te Oranga o te Taiao.
The environmental limits, targets and outcomes will be provided by the National Planning Framework that consolidates what is known as ’national direction’ in the existing resource management system.
The National Planning Framework will provide direction for regional spatial strategies and the Natural and Built Environment plans that flow from them. It will set:
· policies and standards for construction and development activities,
· natural environmental limits relating to water, estuaries, air, soil and indigenous biodiversity, and
· targets for development within those environmental limits.
The NBE Bill requires each region to develop a NBE plan. These will be combined plans covering both resource allocation and land use for a region.
Natural and Built Environment plans will be developed by Regional Planning Committees comprising representatives from hapū, iwi and Māori along with local government. NBE plans must help achieve the goals set out in the regional spatial strategies, and put the direction set out in the National Planning Framework into practice. Early and wide-ranging public participation will be encouraged at the earliest stages of plan development.
2.1.2 Summary of key Bay of Plenty Regional Council submission points on the NBE Bill
A full copy of our proposed submission is attached to this paper. Key submission points on the NBE bill are as follows
· Support changes to improve processes and outcomes in the resource management system.
· Several of the proposed changes, including environmental limits and shift to outcome-based planning, mandatory spatial planning, strengthened Kaupapa Māori provisions, integrated national direction, enhanced ability to review resource consents and to respond to natural hazard and climate change risks and the introduction of new or strengthened enforcement tools are strongly supported.
· There is risk with centralisation, a standardised national planning framework with national standards and regionalised decision making that the system will be less responsive to the needs of local communities and undermine local placemaking in a large region like the Bay of Plenty.
· Creating new governance arrangements in the form of regional planning committees, host councils, and administrative entities in the form of “secretariats” will be administratively and politically difficult, and raises concerns around appropriate democratic representativeness, accountability, and ability for local input into important place-making decisions.
· There needs to be a clearer hierarchy, where the ecological integrity and natural environment outcomes receive more weight than other outcomes, included the Bill itself.
· Supports the strengthening of the Treaty obligation but considers it imperative that further guidance on what giving effect to the principles means be provided in the NBA itself.
· Supports the setting of environmental limits for the resources listed in cl38, and the widening of the scope to prevent ecological integrity of the natural environment from degrading but do want great clarity on a number of matters including granting exemptions to environmental limits, and the role for the independent Limits and Targets Review Panel when it comes to granting exemptions etc.
· Concerned about the NBE Bill’s approach to or effect on management of geothermal taonga. It does not provide adequately for geothermal management.
· The National Planning Framework needs to be prepared with wider input and in a more comprehensive way than is occurring currently.
· The Bill sets out several “resource allocation principles” that are to guide the development of “allocation methods” for resources in NBE Plans. The new allocation principles are: sustainability, equity, and efficiency. The allocation principles are generally supported, although it remains unclear how this is to be reconciled with the obligation to give effect to the principles of te Tiriti.
· A number of consenting concepts are supported in terms of assisting with efficiency and streamlining of decision making, and avoiding unnecessary appeals and time delays including:
o Integration of key relevant case law and current best practice into legislation
o Discretion for consent authorities to decide whether a hearing is needed
o Potential to provide for a greater number of permitted activities
· There are some concerns with the proposed retention of the fast-track consenting process. The level of involvement of the relevant consent authority in the fast-track consenting process (which transfers the process to the Environmental Protection Authority and an independent panel) is too limited. It provides little recognition of the knowledge, skills and experience of local consent authorities. Local consent authorities remain the most appropriate people to assess and make decisions on the types of applications that would be processed via a fast-track process, and they are capable of doing this in the proposed fast track timeframes.
· The notification process will continue to be a contentious part of the consent process and the notification process provided by the NBE Bill is unlikely to result in an improved or more efficient process. A number of changes to the proposed notification provisions are sought to ensure that they are workable and clear.
· Many of the new provisions of the NBE Bill relating to Council’s Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement (CME) responsibilities are positive. However, the new Bill will also increase responsibility on Council to monitor (and resource) permitted activities.
2.2 Spatial Planning Bill
The SP Bill and NBE Bill are designed to work in tandem so the SP Bill cannot be considered in isolation, as illustrated in the figure below.
The SP Bill provides for the development and implementation of long-term, strategic spatial planning across New Zealand through the development of regional spatial strategies (RSS).
Each RSS will set out a vision and objectives for a region’s development and change over a 30-year-plus horizon and integrate planning across different legislative frameworks associated with the management of the natural and built environment. The system outcomes are all contained in the NBE Bill, while both the NBE plan and RSS must be consistent with the NPF and give effect to it where directed.
The SP Bill core proposals and aims include:
· the requirement to prepare an RSS that must ‘assist in achieving the purpose of’ the NBE Bill
· RSS must include an Implementation plan and there is provision for optional implementation agreements
· RSS will identify areas that:
§ are suitable for development
§ may require protection, improvement and restoration
§ require infrastructure
§ are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural hazards.
· Regional planning committees will devise their own engagement process for developing regional spatial strategies.
· Central government will provide clarity to regional spatial strategies and participate in their development.
· the SP Bill has a higher-level integration purpose that looks across other relevant transport and local government legislation, specifically the Land Transport Management Act 2003 and Local Government Act 2002.
2.2.1 Summary of key Bay of Plenty Regional Council submission points on Spatial Planning Bill
· Broadly support the purpose of the SP Bill as it links back to the NBE Bill purpose and the system outcomes set out in that Bill.
· Retain clause 3(b) noting that integration across legislation is one of the reasons for the SP Bill being a separate Bill.
· Support the requirements for NBE Plan to be consistent with the RSS and for council long-term plans to set out steps to implement priority actions in the RSS and report annually on progress.
· Central Government should develop a National Spatial Strategy alongside the NPF. This could draw from Government Policy Statements and have legal weight on RSSs through clause 24 in the SP Bill.
· The potential overlap of RSSs and NBE Plans providing ‘strategic direction’ for the region needs to be considered further as to where the strategic content sits.
· Remove the mandatory requirement for the RSS to set out a vision, rather have objectives and priority actions as mandatory and a vision can be optional.
· Support updated National Planning Standards to be released for RSSs in the first version of the NPF.
· Clarify the contents of RSSs under cl 17(1)(a) covers as it is open to interpretation as has no clear link to identification of ‘Places of national importance’ as defined in Part 8 of the NBE Bill.
· Confirm the legal weight of the Emissions Reduction Plan and the National Adaptation Plan on the RSS.
· Support the introduction of optional engagement agreements however raise concerns re process, timeline, and seek amendment to cl 41 expiry date. Specifically seek that central government fund the participation of Māori groups under engagement agreements prepared pursuant to cl 37(b).
· Support the ability to have cross-regional planning committees and spatial strategies (cl 42 and cl 43), using an example of management of geothermal resources in the Taupō Volcanic Zone by Bay of Plenty and Waikato Regional Councils.
· The ‘appointed Minister’ has significant powers. We support some limited Ministerial powers, noting that Ministers and Governments can change too frequently for long-term strategic planning cycles.
· Specific comments on the NBE Bill Schedule 8 provisions relating to regional planning committees.
2.3 Bay of Plenty councils Submission
The Bay of Plenty Councils (Kawerau District Council, Ōpōtiki District Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, Taupō District Council, Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Whakatāne District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council) work together closely on matters of regional or national interest and have collaborated in the development of a joint submission on the NBE Bill and SP Bill. A copy of the submission is attached.
Key points of this submission include:
· Concern over the lack of integration between the major reform areas being progressed by government and the inconsistency in direction particularly between Local Government Reforms (Future for Local Government), Three Waters, and these Bills.
· The Regional Planning Committees and the diminishing local voice.
· Concern regarding the role of councils in implementing policy created by a committee with no electoral accountability and the lack of integration of decision making on funding and financing.
· The need for more weight on the Community Outcome Statements and the Regional Environmental Statements.
· Seeking further guidance on what giving effect to the principles of Te Tiriti means.
· Seeking clarification of how for those Councils that span several regional council boundaries on how the new system will work.
· Recognising the significant work already undertaken in local place-based sub-regional spatial plans over the years.
· Raises concerns over capability and capacity for local authorities, tangata whenua, stakeholders and the community generally.
3.1 Risks and Mitigations
There are no significant risks associated with this matter/subject/project/initiative.
3.2 Climate Change
The matters addressed in this report are of a procedural nature and there is no need to consider climate change impacts.
3.3 Implications for Māori
There are numerous key implications for Māori in the new Bills that need to be clarified or improved including governance layers, giving better effect to and recognition of the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi, mechanisms for the inclusion of Māori, iwi and hapū in decision-making and resource management processes etc. The resourcing, capability and capacity building of each iwi and hapū must be provided for in the reforms and recognition of te ao Māori and mātauranga Māori in the purpose of the National Planning Framework.
These matters have been considered and are included in the submissions prepared in response to the NBE Bill the SP Bill which this report is seeking confirmation for lodgement.
3.4 Community Engagement
Engagement with the community is not required as submissions on the NBE Bill the SP Bill can be made by all members of the community. Also due to the short timeframe for the lodging of submissions, time has not been available for engagement.
3.5 Financial Implications
There are no material unbudgeted financial implications and this fits within the allocated budget.
4. Next Steps
The New Zealand Parliament, Natural and Built Environment Bill webpage indicates that reports on the NBE Bill and SP Bill (presumably based on consideration of submissions by the Environmental Select Committee) are due by 22 May 2023. When these are reports are received it is anticipated that a timeframe for the Bills to become Acts (Second Reading, Third Reading and Royal Assent) will be announced.
Attachment 1 - BOPRC NBE and SP Bills DRAFT Submission ⇩
Attachment 2 - NBE and SP Bills DRAFT Submission - Bay of Plenty Councils Submissions ⇩