Section 32 and Other Methods

The nature of non-residential activities is such that regulatory intervention at a policy and rule level is the only viable method for dealing with the issue.

The objectives of any regulatory intervention need to be subject to a s32 evaluation that considers reasonably practicable options, and efficiency and effectiveness. This evaluation needs to be robust as the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 now provides greater guidance and specificity about what is required in section 32 reporting, particularly for the assessment of costs and benefits. These changes come into force on 3 December 2013 (3 months after Royal Accent of the Act) and require s32 evaluations to:

  • specifically assess the benefits and costs of the environmental, economic, social and cultural effects
  • assess the opportunities for providing or reducing economic growth and employment
  • quantify the costs and benefits of provisions, where practicable.

When assessing methods, it is important to note:

  • If restrictions are proposed that are greater than those set by a national environmental standard, then those restrictions must be justified as part of the assessment.
  • The efficiency and effectiveness (of plan provisions) and the link to s 7(b) - 'the efficient use and development of natural and physical resources' still remain.
  • There will inevitably be a balancing exercise with amenity effects in terms of s 5(2)(c) and s 7(c).
  • Administration and compliance costs are not explicitly mentioned under s 32, but are an inherent component of the effectiveness and efficiency of rules. Councils will need to be cautious in reconciling these issues with the enabling aspects of s5 and s9.