The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) sets out a statutory procedure for decision making, and also encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution methods. Environmental disputes can often be avoided or resolved through dialogue between the parties involved.
Consultation, negotiation, pre-hearing meetings, facilitation, and mediation can enable parties to reach full or partial settlement at different stages of plan development and resource consent procedures. Arbitration is another available method, although it is seldom used.
Using alternative dispute resolution methods can save time and money, protect long-term relationships, and help parties find creative solutions. The foundation of any alternative dispute resolution process is negotiation, whether parties negotiate directly or use an independent facilitator or mediator.