Faster, cheaper planning laws will protect environment

  • Repeal and replace the Resource Management Act 
  • Deliver better outcomes for natural and urban environments
  • Create jobs through fast-track consenting to help with the COVID-19 recovery

Labour is committed to delivering better outcomes for our natural and urban environments, and so will repeal and replace the Resource Management Act.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said Labour’s changes will remove complexity and inconsistency, improve environmental outcomes, and reduce costs for all involved.

“Overly restrictive planning rules are one of the causes of high house prices. Labour will continue to improve the availability of land for housing through better integrated planning and investment in urban development, infrastructure and transport, and set standards for quality urban design.”

“Labour’s plan for recovery is built around five principles: investing in people, jobs, preparing for the future, supporting small businesses, and positioning New Zealand globally. Improving our planning system will create jobs by making it easier to deliver construction projects while protecting our environment and building the right thing in the right place.  

Labour’s environment spokesperson David Parker said Labour would ensure that New Zealand’s resource management system is fit for the future. Reform of the RMA has been promised by governments for over a decade. Labour is the party actually delivering on it.

The current system is too costly, takes too long, and has not adequately protected the environment,” David Parker said. 

“We undertook the most comprehensive review of the resource management system in its 30 year history, and we will implement its core recommendations in the next parliamentary term.

“They included repealing the current RMA and replacing it with two new laws, a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act. We also agree that climate adaptation legislation is needed,” David Parker said.

“Labour agrees the number of local government resource management plans should be drastically reduced to a plan per region, and that there should be more national direction to better protect environmental bottom lines for biodiversity and ecosystems.

”We will also adopt the recommendation for an outcomes-based approach rather than the current approach of controlling effects.”

Labour’s Urban Growth Agenda aims to remove unnecessary barriers to the supply of land and infrastructure for housing.

This term we have improved how the environment is managed, including by:

  • Passing the Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 to reduce complexity, increase certainty, and make significant improvements to environmental outcomes.
  • Making it easier for our cities to grow up and out by implementing a new National Policy Statement on Urban Development.
  • Starting to clean up our rivers and lakes by implementing a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, and National Environmental Standards.
  • Allowing councils to consider climate change emissions when making consenting decisions.

The Government has also put in place a fast-track consenting law to create jobs to help with the COVID-19 recovery.

“This allows faster consenting of projects to urgently promote employment and support our economic recovery, while protecting environmental standards and Treaty of Waitangi obligations,” David Parker said.

Labour will also consider how councils can most appropriately and effectively protect significant urban trees and tree cover.

David Parker said that while increased forestry provides environmental benefits for New Zealand, we do not want to see our most productive farm land planted in exotic pine trees. 

“We will focus on ensuring that the right tree is planted in the right place for the right purpose.

“Labour will revise the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry in the first six months of our next term in government, to enable councils to determine what classes of land can be plantation and carbon forests while protecting our elite soils that are so important for growing food.”


Fact sheet