The cost of implementation of the RMA has been one of the factors identified as a key issue in the drive to reform the RMA. The cost of the consenting process has been estimated to be in excess of a 1.29$B per year. In addition to the consenting cost there is a considerable, and un-quantified cost involved in the compliance with environmental regulation. There is no doubt to the importance of protecting the environmental values to which the regulation applies. However, there are very real costs in this compliance which may be direct costs or costs incurred through delays to the construction programme. A key challenge is to meet the environmental outcomes intended through the regulation while minimising the associated bureaucracy and cost. It’s important to apply the definition of environment to include the social, economic, cultural well-beings as well as the natural environment. There is inconsistency in the application of regulation, a lack of guidance and a need to focus on the best environmental outcomes. For publicly funded major infrastructure projects there are a number of approaches that can be adopted to minimise the costs of compliance without compromising the environmental outcomes. This presentation draws on experience with a number of publicly funded infrastructure projects. It canvasses the importance of well considered, practical and enforceable RMA conditions. In some cases a better outcome can be achieved by seeking a change to conditions. Once construction has started the relationship between the regulator and the constructor is critical. “Trust equals speed”. The optimal environmental outcome which minimises the cost to the “public purse” will be achieved through an open and collaborative relationship between the regulator and the constructor.
Thursday 2 November
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Planning & Environmental Principal, Downer NZ Ltd
Hugh has worked in the field of environmental management and planning for over 40 years. During this time he has worked for Local Government, environmental consultancy and most recently for an infrastructure constructor. He is an accredited RMA Commissioner. His experience has included implementing the RMA in a number of large, publicly funded infrastructure projects in New Zealand. He has seen issues from the side of the regulator, applicant and decision maker.