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The Resource Management Review Panel is conducting a review of New Zealand’s Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), the legislation governing environmental management in New Zealand. In November 2019, the panel released an Issues and Options Paper in relation to that review. NERA Senior Consultant Kevin Counsell prepared a submission on the Issues and Options Paper, which addresses two issues relating to how planning and consent processes can be improved to deliver more efficient and effective outcomes.

Mr. Counsell explains why planning processes and consent processes can be greatly improved by better using the economic technique of cost-benefit analysis (CBA). CBA is a tool that involves the systematic identification of all the benefits and costs of a project or action, quantification of those benefits and costs in monetary terms, and aggregation into a present-day monetary measure of net benefits. To date, this method has been poorly applied or in some cases completely absent from environmental decision making in New Zealand. As Mr. Counsell explains, a robust application of CBA will ultimately lead to more objective and superior environmental decision-making outcomes.