Resource Management Act: RMA Link: Topics: Details

The RMAlink project aims to make community participation in all Resource Management Act processes more straightforward and less time-consuming. More effective participation from those with a concern for the environment will contribute towards improving environmental outcomes nationwide.

Topics: Details

Hosted by:

Wellington Community Network
Subject Transport Issues

Text Transport Planning Framework

The Place of the RMA in Transport Planning.
The Resource Management Act is only one component within New Zealands statutory framework for land transport planning. The larger framework involves a number of pieces of legislation that are not particularly well integrated. Responsibility for administering these statutes is divided amongst a number of government departments and agencies who play a strategic role in determining policy, planning for new infrastructure, and upgrading existing facilities. Local and regional authorities make policy and investment decisions on transport facilities in their own areas, but are not in full control of priorities.

The broader issues of planning for sustainable land transport, (i.e. systems which provide for societys economic and mobility needs while minimising environmental impacts), is beyond the scope of the RMA. The broader environmental outcomes are determined further up the planning chain, according to the degree of sustainability thinking reflected in the policies, procedures, and decisions of the various agencies involved in transport planning. (Ministry of Transport, Transfund, Transit New Zealand, Transrail).

Regional authorities (and therefore communities) influence decisions through regional land transport strategies. Market forces (the daily travel habits and shopping decisions of every New Zealander) also have a large degree of influence. Decisions and forecasts are based on demand - traffic counts, freight transport statistics, bus and rail patronage figures, census and household travel survey results

After development priorities for infrastructure have been decided, the Resource Management Act manages the environmental effects of individual construction projects state highways, local roads, highway interchanges, bridges and flyovers, bus and rail stations, bus / rail interchanges, park and ride, pedestrian and cycling facilities. These public works require designations and regional plan permits under the RMA. Opportunities at this stage to avoid or remedy are limited, and the emphasis is on mitigation of localised impacts only.

The construction and ongoing use of motorways, roads and bridges can have large scale effects on amenity values, habitats and ecosystems. Many concerned citizens, community groups and tangata whenua find themselves opposing designations, or opposing developments within sites or corridors that have been designated for many years in anticipation of future growth.

The Land Transport Management Act 2003.
This Act places an increased emphasis on land transport being managed in a sustainable manner. It requires environmental and social factors to be explicitly considered earlier in the planning process. The Act strengthens the requirement that environmental issues are considered in transport planning by requiring both Transit New Zealand and Transfund to contribute to a sustainable land transport system. It also requires sustainability principles to be taken into account when preparing regional land transport strategies.

As yet, it is unclear whether this will translate into improved environmental outcomes. The taken into account wording does not amount to a strong mandate for environmental factors, and the term sustainable is open to wide interpretation.

Sustainable Transport
Demand management must be a key part of any strategy that works toward achieving more sustainable transport. Demand management provides an alternative to the conventional approach of simply investing in more transport services and infrastructure, according to growth forecasts. Methods include investing in public transport, teleworking, car pooling and marketing programmes, and charging for road use. Public awareness and marketing programmes that encourage people to use more energy-efficient modes of transport have been used successfully in other countries, and are promoted in New Zealand by EECA, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. Investment in these alternatives to private car use can reduce the number of car journeys made, and so reduce the need for continual expansion of the roading system (or slow its rate).



Auckland Regional Council (2002) Travel Demand Management Strategy
Available online at the ARC website,
Description: Outlines a range of methods that could be used in the Auckland region to influence demand for car travel, and reduce traffic congestion.

Memon, P. A., and Perkins, H. (eds) (2000) Environmental Planning and Management in New Zealand
Dunmore Press
Chapter 28 Towards Holistic Transportation Planning in New Zealand by C. Kissling and M. Bachels.

MFE (1999) Proposals for Indicators of the Environmental Effects of Transport
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington ISBN 0-478-09059-5
Description: Proposals for how the environmental effects of transport could be monitored. This would identify trends whether our transport systems were becoming more or less environmentally sustainable.

Ministry of Transport (2002) New Zealand Transport Strategy Description: This document summarises the governments vision of an affordable integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system, and plans for achieving this. Available online at

Transit New Zealand (1998) National State Highway Strategy
Transit New Zealand, Wellington.
Description: Describes Transits mission, goals, and objectives for the state highway system. Outlines policies and plans for maintaining and improving state highways to meet current and future traffic demands, and road user needs and expectations. Now obsolete, due for a review late 2004.

Regional Land Transport Strategies
Your regional council will have a current Land Transport Strategy. This will be available at your public library, and on your regional councils website.

Journal Articles

Lanning, G. (2003) The Land Transport Management Act 2003: Moving Forward Gets the Green Light.
Resource Management Bulletin, vol 5, p88.

Lanning, G. (2002) Painting the Big Picture: the role and future of regional land transport strategies.
Resource Management Bulletin, May 2002, p121-124
Description: This article discusses the status of Regional Land Transport Strategies and the RMA which takes precedence?

Web-Based Resources

Resources: See 'Transport' under 'Guidance on Planning Topics'.