Digest No. 2061
|Date of Introduction:||5 December 2012|
|Select Committee:||Local Government and Environment|
|Date report presented:||11 June 2013|
|Published: 18 July 2013by John McSoriley BA LL.B, BarristerLegislative AnalystP: (04) 817-9626 (Ext. 9626)||Caution: This Digest was prepared to assist consideration of the Bill by members of Parliament. It has no official status.Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, it should not be taken as a complete or authoritative guide to the Bill. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.|
The aim of the Bill is to amend the Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA), the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010, and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 to delivers “some fast, discrete improvements” to the consenting regime, provide for the delivery of the first combined plan for Auckland, provide further powers to make regulations, and make “technical and operational changes”. 
The Bill as introduced is described in Bills Digest No 2012.
Resource Management Act 1991
District rules - Trees
Section 76 of the RMA provides that a territorial authority may include rules in a district plan for the purpose of “carrying out its functions under this Act” and “achieving the objectives and policies of the plan”. The section however provides that “a rule must not prohibit or restrict the felling, trimming, damaging, or removal of any tree or group of trees in an urban environment unless the tree or group of trees is (as one alternative) “specifically identified in the plan”.
The Bill as introduced sought to limit this provision by replacing this last mentioned phrase with: “specifically identified in a schedule to the plan by street address or legal description of the land, or both, regardless of whether the tree or group of trees is also identified on any map in the plan”. The term “group of trees” is defined as “a cluster, grove, or line of trees that are located on the same or adjacent allotments”. The term “urban environment” is defined as “an allotment no greater than” 4,000 square metres “that is connected to a reticulated water supply system and a reticulated sewerage system” and “on which there is a building used for industrial or commercial purposes” or “a dwelling house”.
The Bill as introduced set out three situations for which such protective rules could not be made:
- “all trees of 1 or more named species in a defined area or zone of the plan (for example, all cabbage trees in coastal areas x, y, and z)”;
- “all trees in a class with defined characteristics in a defined area or zone of the plan (for example, all exotic trees over 5 metres high or 800 millimetres in girth in residential zones x, y, and z)”;
- “all trees in a named ecosystem (whether natural or artificial), habitat or landscape unit, or ecotone (for example, all native trees located in the valley floor of the district)” (Part 1, Subpart 1, Clause 12, amending Section 76 of the RMA, subsections 4A and 4B and inserting new subsection 4C)”.
The bar-2 Bill contains a complete redraft of this provison and now provides that:
A rule may prohibit or restrict the felling, trimming, damaging, or removal of a tree or trees on a “single urban environment allotment” only if, in a schedule to the plan,
- the tree or trees are described; and
- the allotment is specifically identified by street address or legal description of the land, or both.
A rule may prohibit or restrict the felling, trimming, damaging, or removal of trees on two or more urban environment allotments only if:
- the allotments are adjacent to each other; and
- the trees on the allotments together form a “group of trees” (i.e. “a cluster, grove, or line of trees”); and
- in a schedule to the plan, the trees are described and the allotments are specifically identified by street address or legal description of the land, or both.
The term “urban environment allotment or allotment “ is defined as: “an allotment … that is no greater than 4 000 m2 … and … that is connected to a reticulated water supply system and a reticulated sewerage system … and … on which there is a building used for industrial or commercial purposes or as a dwellinghouse … and … that is not reserve (within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Reserves Act 1977) or subject to a conservation management plan or conservation management strategy prepared in accordance with the Conservation Act 1987 or the Reserves Act 1977” (Part 1, substituting Clause 12).
In its commentary on the Bill, the Select Committee stated that it “ recommended amending clause 12 to clarify the rules that may be included in a district plan regarding the felling, trimming, damaging, or removal of trees on single allotments (section 76(4A)) and two or more adjacent allotments if the trees are described in a schedule (section 76(4B)). It was never intended that local authorities could protect individual trees only by scheduling, and we note that clause 12 would not preclude them from protecting trees by other means such as resource consent conditions”. In commenting on the deletion of the examples, the Select Committee stated: “ the examples in section 76(4C) … were taken from an Environment Court judgment (Auckland Council  NZEnvC 129), and have caused considerable confusion”  .
|Copyright: © NZ Parliamentary Library, 2013|
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- Resource Management Reform Bill, 2012 No 93-1, Explanatory note, p. 1. [back]
- Resource Management Reform Bill, 2013 No 93-2, As reported from the Local Government and Environment Committee, Commentary, p. 2. [back]