Environmental / Resource Management

Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015: Amendments to the plan making provisions

Created: Monday, 14 December 2015 22:56

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (the Bill) proposes a suite of amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA) so as to achieve the sustainable management of natural and physical resources in an efficient and equitable way. In particular, the Bill proposes a number of changes to the plan making processes in the RMA.

The Bill introduces two new planning tracks, resulting in a total of three different tracks by which a council can produce a plan:

  1. The existing track which now has tighter timeframes;
  2. A new collaborative track to encourage greater front-end public engagement, intended to produce plans that better reflect community values and thereby reduce litigation costs and lengthy delays; and
  3. A new streamlined track to provide for more flexibility in planning processes and time frames and allow these to be tailored to specific issues and circumstances.

Other amendments relevant to plan making include:

  1. Insertion of new Subpart 1 of Part 5 (Standards, policy statements and plans) relating to a National Planning Template;
  2. Insertion of new Subpart 2 of Part 5 relating to iwi engagement; and
  3. Miscellaneous amendments to Schedule 1.

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The local alcohol policy predicament - striking a balance

Created: Friday, 27 November 2015 21:27

"The principle under which we have approached this review is that New Zealanders live in a free and democratic society.  They are subject only to such limitation in their freedom as can be justified in such a society.  They have liberty to behave as they choose as long as their actions respect the rights of others and are not contrary to the law.  Public policy decisions that are made to restrict activity have to be justified by strong arguments that it is in the public interest that individuals and corporations do not exercise their freedom in particular ways".

Foreword to the Law Commission Report,  Alcohol in our lives: curbing the harm

The above extract is an appropriate summary of the local alcohol policy (LAP) dilemma we have continuously been exposed to over the last three years. Some territorial authorities claim that the larger commercial alcohol operators are monopolising the LAP process under the current legislation, which ultimately fails to provide communities with greater participation in the process, or , consequently to deliver on the object of the Act.  Alcohol operators on the other hand contend that the lack of empirical evidence produced by territorial authorities in the production of their LAPs means unreasonable restrictions are imposed without justification.

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Government Releases Environmental Law Reforms

Created: Friday, 27 November 2015 03:23

On Thursday morning the Minister for the Environment, Hon. Nick Smith introduced into Parliament the latest round of environmental law reforms.

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Key Licensing Decision for Supermarkets

Created: Tuesday, 17 November 2015 21:00

Christchurch Medical Officer of Health v J & G Vaudrey Limited (& Ors) [2015] NZHC 2749

The High Court has released a decision clarifying the role of District Licensing Committees (DLCs) in describing single area conditions in supermarkets, but aspects of the decision may lead to uncertainty for future applicants.

The Sale and Supply of Liquor Act 2012 (the Act) brought into force a much more comprehensive regime for applications for and renewals of alcohol licences than its predecessor, the Sale of Liquor Act 1989. One of the key changes for supermarkets and grocery stores is that all licence applications and renewals are subject to a 'single-area condition', which limits the display and promotion of alcohol to a certain area or areas within the premises. This new condition was introduced for the purpose set out in section 112(1) of the Act:

"...to limit (so far as is reasonably practicable) the exposure of shoppers in supermarkets and grocery stores to displays and promotions of alcohol, and advertisements for alcohol."

This appeal examined the role played by a DLC in describing the single-area condition in a licence application or renewal.

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Unpicking the Unholy Relationship between Local Authorities and their CCOs

Created: Monday, 09 November 2015 14:26

Few relationships in local government come under more stress.  The Controller and Auditor-General has produced a report offering practical guidance on how the principles of good governance apply to setting up, operating and monitoring of council-controlled organisations (CCOs).

Refer to Governance and accountability of council-controlled organisation September 2015.

What is in the report?

Drawing on earlier reports in 1994 and 2001 dealing with public entities and their subsidiaries, and on interviews and case studies of eight of the larger urban local authorities, the Auditor-General has provided updated observations and advice for all local authorities.  The report should also be compulsory reading for those public and media commentators who persistently blur the line between councils and their CCOs.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Environment

Created: Wednesday, 30 September 2015 12:20

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has had a fair degree of media coverage, both during its seven year negotiation, and since negotiations concluded on October 8 2015. Less has been heard however, on the Environment Chapter of the TPP, and what it might mean (if anything) for New Zealand and our environmental regulations.

What is the TPP?

TPP is a free trade agreement that will liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries: New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darassalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The rationale for an Environment Chapter in any trade agreement is to break down trade barriers that exist under the guise of environmental regulations; to promote higher standards of environmental protection globally; and to reduce trade advantages that one country may have over another because of lower environmental standards.

So, for a country like New Zealand with relatively high standards of environmental regulation, and with a highly trade exposed economy, environmental provisions in a trade agreement are welcomed.

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