An investigation into the impact of the Resource Management Act 1991 on the provision of information by regional councils in annual plans and annual reports.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
Prior to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) New Zealand's environmental law was managed via a plethora of overlapping, confusing, and conflicting legislation (Resource Management Bill (RMB), i). The purpose of the RMA is to promote the sustainable management of New Zealand's natural and physical resources. It imposes a duty on every person to ensure that this is achieved. Regional councils play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable management because they are responsible for establishing, implementing, and reviewing objectives, policies and methods to achieve integrated management of natural and physical resources in their regions. They must prepare a regional policy statement and a coastal policy statement, and where necessary regional plans. In addition, they have certain other duties under the RMA: to consider alternatives, benefits, and costs (section 32); and to gather information, monitor, and keep records (section 35). However, the RMA does not clearly outline how regional councils should provide information to the public about progress made towards objectives as outlined in regional plans and policy statements and their other duties. It is important for the regional council to be accountable to the public for their progress made towards objectives and their duties since, as ratepayers, the public are financial contributors.1 This study investigates how regional councils are currently providing information to the public about progress made towards objectives and their other duties as required under the RMA. This study also investigates whether the annual plans and annual reports (as required under the Local Government Act 1974 (LGA)) are the appropriate vehicles for disclosing this information. The research is conducted through a survey sent to accountants who coordinate and/or prepare annual plans and annual reports in regional councils (or councils with regional responsibilities) who prepare annual plans and annual reports. Follow-up interviews were held with two accountants at these regional councils. The research has found that the RMA has currently had little impact on the provision of information by regional councils in annual plans and annual reports. However, the impact may be greater in the future.