RMA reform: Environment Minister David Parker won't commit to keeping ability to block consents

It's finally time to bid adieu to the nightmare that is the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Environment Minister David Parker won't commit to keeping the ability to block consents. 

Parker announced on Wednesday that the RMA will be torn in three and replaced with the Natural and Built Environments Act - the main replacement law governing what we can do with land. 

The Strategic Planning Act will force councils to plan more efficiently and effectively, while the Climate Change Adaptation Act will deal with moving away from coastal areas and funding and financing adaptation. 

The changes to the RMA aim to help the housing crisis by removing complexity and removing barriers to getting resource consents. 

The leafy green suburbs of Auckland are the natural habitat of the NIMBYs, the "not in my backyard" folk, who are often blamed for stalling housing developments - no apartments wanted anywhere near the villas. 

"I don't think you'll ever kill off NIMBY-ism completely," said Parker on Wednesday. 

But their time may be coming to an end.

"Oh yes," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when asked if it's time to end NIMBY-ism. 

National leader Judith Collins says it's not that straightforward. 

"Well, we all say that until it's our NIMBY-ism that we're trying to protect."

The NIMBY's weapon of choice is the RMA appeals process - blocking consents - and the Environment Minister won't commit to keeping it.

"We're not sure that we should be taking forward every single procedure under the RMA," Parker said.

Parker is tearing the RMA to shreds. It's blamed for failing to free-up enough land. The outdated, brutally-long and cumbersome legislation has long been the kicking boy of the housing crisis, and repealing it the silver bullet to solving it.

"I think there is an appetite in New Zealand to solve the housing crisis," said Parker. "People don't like to see the next generation struggling to get into affordable housing."

It'll be replaced by three laws - one similar to the RMA, one focussed on streamlining council plans and one to help manage retreat from areas vulnerable to climate change. 

That may include a fund to pay homeowners out, but Parker said work around funding options hasn't been completed yet.

All of this will not happen overnight. The reform process will crawl through Parliament in three parts, with each law done separately. The big one - the Natural and Built Environments Act - will only make it to the end of the draft process by the end of this year.

"It is a very big thing to give birth to," said Parker. "It would be like triplets to deliver it all at once and one at a time."

National's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says the process is too slow. 

"We've repeated our call for urgent interim measures to increase housing supply now - not in 2022."