Environmental / Resource Management

An Update on the 2015 RMA Reforms

Created: Wednesday, 11 March 2015 20:17

Rotary meetings seldom grab the national headlines but this all changed in late January. No it wasn't an installation of the hallowed 32 burner BBQ at the local park, but a topic just as hot - the Minister for the Environment's speech on reform of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The attention was justified.

Sure the speech was light on detail, but that is to be expected given policy development and work on a proposed Bill is continuing at pace. What it did provide was a sense of Minister Nick Smith's vision for the reforms and how that differs from the direction taken by the previous Minister. When considered alongside the February 2013 discussion document (Ministry for the Environment, Improving our Resource Management System Discussion Document) released by the previous Minister, the speech allows a map for the reforms to be drawn, albeit by inference.

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Supreme Court has Last Word on Upgrading Earthquake-prone Buildings

Created: Friday, 27 March 2015 11:18

Natural disasters often test the boundaries of the law.  In University of Canterbury v Insurance Council of NZ Inc [2014] NZSC 193, the Supreme Court considered the power of territorial authorities to require work to be carried out on earthquake-prone buildings. It found that local authorities are not entitled to require that such buildings be strengthened to more than 34% of the  new building standard (NBS).


Christchurch City Council’s 2010 Policy concerning earthquake-prone buildings (the City Council Policy) adopted recommendations of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering that the level of strengthening required to reduce or remove the danger posed by an earthquake-prone building was 67% of NBS.

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Local Authority Powers To Impose Time-Restricted Parking

Created: Friday, 28 November 2014 03:40

In Hutt City Council v O'Connor [2014] NZHC 2290, the High Court considered the power of a local authority to impose time-restricted parking. The Judge found that the Minister could, but had not, created a rule empowering local authorities to restrict parking.


Alwyn O'Connor was issued with a parking infringement notice by Hutt City Council ("the Council") for breach of r6.4(1) Land Transport (Road User Rule) 2004 ("the Road User Rule") due to parking his vehicle for more than two hours in an area on Port Road subject to a P 120 parking time restriction.

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Council Processing Burned And Buried

Created: Thursday, 27 November 2014 03:58


The recent decision of Zwart v Gisborne District Council [2014] NZEnvC 242 provides a rare example of a costs award against a consent authority and a strong reminder that a full and proper assessment must be undertaken by an authority when processing resource consent applications.

In two previous decisions the Court declined the appeal against the decision of the Gisborne District Council (Council) to grant land use resource consents to build and operate a funeral home on the outskirts of Gisborne City. The question of costs was reserved, but the Court expressly discouraged any costs application because of issues relating to the quality and processing of the application.

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Question Of Riverbed Ownership Adjoining Maori Land Left Open

Created: Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:46

In the final of a series of cases, the Supreme Court in Paki & Ors v Attorney General [2014] NZSC 118dismissed a claim by the appellants that they had title to part of the riverbed of the Waikato River adjoining their lands; leaving the question of riverbed ownership open. The appellants are descendants of members of various hapu that were awarded interests in land subdivided from the Pouakani block by the Native Land Court (NLC) in the late 19th century. The Courts have released this decision as being one of public interest, and a copy is available Public Sector, Environment & Resources.

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Supreme Court Affirms Environmental Bottom Line

Created: Friday, 06 June 2014 04:25


In Environmental Defence Society Incorporated v The New Zealand King Salmon Company Limited and Ors [2014] NZSC 38, the Supreme Court expressed its views on the interpretation of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement ("the NZCPS") with regard to the management framework within the Resource Management Act ("the RMA").

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