Through allowing for submissions and hearings, the RMA ensures public participation in decision-making. However, the statutory RMA procedures may not always meet the expectations of all the parties involved. This might be because of:
- The cost of employing expert witnesses and lawyers, the cost of delays, and the cost of losing a case, particularly if costs are awarded against a party
- The time it can take to get a final decision
- The risk to long-term relationships
- The risk to the community's faith in fair process, when some participants perceive that RMA procedures are unfair
- The inability of the RMA to achieve, on its own, creative solutions to environmental problems.
The formal procedures can be a barrier to communication between parties. Submitters can feel that there is an imbalance of power, particularly in their access to information. Applicants may feel that the decision imposed is not the best solution to a perceived problem.
For these reasons, the RMA recognises and encourages a range of alternative dispute resolution methods that enable people to work together directly to manage and resolve conflict. These are increasingly being put into practice.