|dc.description.abstract||The Resource Management Act 1991 represents a significant shift away from the direction and control approach of the Town and Country Planning Act 1977 towards an effects-based, outcome-orientated, integrated approach with one single substantive purpose "to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources."
• S5(2)(c), or the duty to 'avoid, remedy, or mitigate adverse effects on the environment' (ARM) 'escaped' much of the theoretical debate in the Resource Management Law Reform process (RMLR) as it was included within the definition of 'sustainable management' late in the reform process. This has meant that there has been little debate and direction on application and interpretation of s5(2)(c) or the concept of ARM.
• In examining its application and interpretation, ARM makes more sense interpreted in a two-level hierarchy with a balancing approach between 'remedy' and 'mitigate'. Under this proposition, 'avoid' requires adverse effects to be escaped or evaded 'Remedy' is something that is done after the damage has been caused, requiring adverse effects to be rectified, or corrected. 'Mitigate' involves something ongoing and requires adverse effects to be reduced in severity, or moderated. The way the Act reads, application of anyone of these is sufficient to achieve the purpose of the Act.
• ARM contains several implications for sustainable management. Firstly, ARM provides a simplified, standardised and integrated effects-based approach allowing the community, or the resource users, to have more control over the direction of their well-being; secondly, ARM allows for the internalisation of costs to those that benefit from the resource use; thirdly, through the definition of 'environment', S5(2)(c) has an inherent balancing function where both the biophysical and the human aspects are considered concurrently; and fourthly, the tangible and encompassing nature of s5(2)(c) means that it has the potential to include s5(2)(a) and s5(2)(b) and even to act as a surrogate ethic for the Act.
• Because of these implications, ARM is extremely important for the functioning of the Act. Anything that compromises ARM therefore will compromise the achievement of sustainable management. ARM relies heavily on effects assessment. Problems with this process include interpretational concerns over what constitutes an adverse effect, and institutional concerns such as information gathering and costs, the importance of the Assessment of Environmental Effects, the skills of resource consents officers, monitoring and enforcement, policy statements and plans and condition setting - fortunately there has been much guidance provided on these matters.
• What has not been addressed by ARM is the problem of cumulative effects arising from many un-ARMed minor adverse effects. Mitigation banking is an approach that can deal with this problem by allowing many small effects to be dealt with in one go. The offsetting benefits are provided for before consent for the resource use is given.
• ARM is a critical provision within section 5 and the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). It is a key means through which sustainability under the Act will be achieved. Those who work with natural and physical resources need to recognise this.||en