Local government and integrated environmental management : a role for unitary councils? : an assessment of the potential of unitary councils to promote integrated and sustainable resource management through the Resource Management Act 1991
Local government has a significant role in the management of natural and physical resources in New Zealand. The local government, and resource law, reform processes of the late 1980's established a framework for this management through the Local Government Amendment Act (No.2) 1989 and the Resource Management Act 1991. The central purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991 is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. The ability to promote sustainable management, is closely linked to achieving more integrated environmental management through political structures and processes which improve levels of comprehensiveness and coordination. At the local government level, regional councils have a pivotal role in achieving integrated and sustainable resource management. Since the reforms, a trend toward replacing regional councils with smaller scale unitary councils, which combine regional and territorial functions, has been apparent. The Nelson-Marlborough Regional Council has been abolished and replaced by three unitary councils, and several other similar proposals have been submitted to the Local Government Commission for consideration. This study reviews the establishment, structure, functions and operation of unitary councils, in order to assess their ability to contribute effectively to the promotion of sustainable resource management in the New Zealand context. Aspects of the policy literature regarding integrated environmental management, are used to focus and guide the review. Findings indicate that a number of issues arising from the structure, range of functions, and territorial scale of unitary councils, limit their potential to facilitate more integrated management through increased levels of comprehensiveness and coordination. It is recommended that no further unitary councils are created. In addition, although unitary authorities are not the ideal institutional form within which resource management occurs, practical steps to enhance the integrative potential of existing unitary authorities are suggested.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordslocal government; integrated environmental management; unitary councils; sustainable resource management; Resource Management Act 1991; environmental conservation; regional councils; environmental policy
Fields of Research050205 Environmental Management; 160507 Environment Policy; 140205 Environment and Resource Economics; 160608 New Zealand Government and Politics
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