The land transport framework in New Zealand is governed by a relatively complex set of legislative provisions.
The following have some influence over planning or resource management outcomes:
Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA)
There are several sections under the RMA that are directly or indirectly applicable to land transport. Regional councils, for instance, have a specific responsibility to strategically integrate infrastructure with land use through objectives, policies and methods (s30(1)(gb)). Regional and district plans have to give effect to RPSs (ss67(3)(c) and 75(3)(c)).
Land Transport Management Act 2003 (LTMA)
The LTMA came into force in November 2003 and was significantly amended in 2013. The purpose of the LTMA (s3) is to "contribute to an effective, efficient, and safe land transport system in the public interest.” .
To contribute to that purpose, the LTMA:
- requires social and environmental responsibility in land transport funding, planning and management
- improves long-term planning and investment in land transport, through streamlined decision making criteria (effective, efficient, and safe)
- requires the NZTA to ensure value for money
- streamlines consultation requirements
- enables new roads to be built on a tolled or concession agreement basis or on a basis involving a combination of those methods.
- enables the NZTA to borrow against National Land Transport Fund revenue to fund future projects
- embeds the Public Transport Operating Model into legislation
The Act amended the Local Government Act 1974, the Transit New Zealand Act 1989, and the Land Transport Act 1998, and repeals the Auckland Transport Board Act 1928. The 2013 amendments to the Act repealed the Public Transport Management Act 2008.
Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2008
Established the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) created by merging Transit New Zealand and Land Transport New Zealand.
Land Transport Act 1998 (LTA)
The LTA provides for the regulation of transport in New Zealand.
Government Roading Powers Act 1989
This Act defines the functions and powers of the NZTA and local authorities in relation to motorways and state highways, including the ability to declare and manage access to limited access roads.
Local Government Act 2002 (LGA)
The LGA defines the purpose, roles and responsibilities of local government. It provides a framework and powers for local authorities to determine the activities they undertake and the manner in which they undertake them.
In relation to land transport relevant components include:
- the requirement that councils prepare a Long Term Plan including provisions for transport infrastructure and funding
- the ability to prepare urban growth strategies
- the ability to make bylaws
- the ability to require developer contributions as opposed to financial contributions under the RMA
- a process to stop legal roads under the 10th schedule of the LGA 1974.
Territorial authorities are also required to consult with the community about proposed programmes and projects.
Other related legislation
Historic Places Act 1993 - Obtaining an authority from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to destroy or modify archaeological sites is often necessary prior to the construction of new transport infrastructure.
Reserves Act 1977 - Consents under the Reserve Act may also be necessary where land that is gazetted for a reserve is required for transport infrastructure purposes.
Strategies and policies
If land transport is to be addressed in an integrated way it is important to consider, in conjunction with other legislation, any relevant strategies or policies that have been developed by national agencies.
The Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2013 changed the planning framework for national and regional land transport plans, programmes and policies. The five former national and regional transport planning documents have been combined into three main documents:
- Government policy statement on land transport
- Regional transport plans
- National land transport programme.
At a national level:
- the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport will set out central government’s outcomes, objectives and impacts for the land transport sector for at least 10 years
- the Statement is to be issued by the Minister of Transport at least once every six years. It will contain the Crown’s Land Transport Investment Strategy, which will be reviewed at least once every three years
- the national land transport programme contains all the land transport activities, such as public transport services and infrastructure and road construction and maintenance, expected to receive funding from the NZTA. NZTA is responsible for allocating funding to land transport.
At a regional level:
- the Regional Land Transport Plan will set objectives, policies and interventions for at least 10 years
- the plan will be issued every six years, and reviewed every three years.
These arrangements are intended to allow transport planning to better integrate higher-level strategic planning with lower-level tactical planning, and will reduce the amount of time regions spend in consultation over minor activities. The changes also enable Regional Land Transport Plans to have an outlook for a timeframe suited to their region. For more information on the changes see the Ministry of Transport website.
Regional Land Transport Plans (RLTPs) are developed by regional councils and Auckland Transport, and must contribute to the purpose of the LTMA, and be consistent with the Government Policy Statement. RLTPs combine elements of the former land transport strategies and land transport programmes, reducing consultation requirements and aiding engagement with stakeholders and the public. RLTPs must look forward 10 years, encouraging a strategic approach. Auckland Transport has prepared an Integrated Transport Programme which goes some way to combining the strategic and programme components that have come together in the ‘new’ RLTPs.
Regional growth strategies (RGS) are non-statutory documents that are generally developed at the regional or sub-regional level. They can strongly influence land use, development and transport planning but only have statutory effect if their strategic direction is incorporated into a RPS and any associated plans. The LGA 2002 also provides opportunities for integrated transport and land use planning through the development of Long Term Plans.
A number of regions have prepared, or are preparing, growth strategies that set in place a strategic vision for the region, and their value as a tool to inform transport and land use planning should not be underestimated. Growth strategies are tailored to the particular circumstances of a region and consider such factors as population and employment growth, existing and projected land use activities and the adequacy of existing infrastructure.
Auckland Spatial Plan - The Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Act 2010 requires the Auckland Council to prepare a spatial plan to contribute to Auckland's social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing through a comprehensive and effective long-term (20 to 30 year) strategy. Transport and land use are critical 'city shapers', integral to the long-term growth strategy for Auckland region. By articulating a clear approach to the location, timing and sequencing of growth in Auckland, the spatial plan will facilitate more efficient and cost effective delivery of infrastructure. It will also help ensure that future growth does not compromise the function of existing transport networks. The plan was approved by Auckland Council in March 2012.
The National Rail Strategy sets out the Government's rail policy objectives and priorities for action to 2015. It outlines key initiatives intended to achieve the outcomes sought, including increasing the amount of freight and commuters using rail.
Land Transport Agencies
Several agencies have a role in land transport, particularly in relation to resource management matters. These include:
- Ministry of Transport
- Regional councils
- City/district councils
- Auckland Transport
The Ministry of Transport (MoT) is responsible for developing national transport policy and related legislation. MoT acts as the Minister of Transport's agent for managing the interface with the other government transport entities the NZTA, Maritime New Zealand, Civil Aviation Authority, KiwiRail,the Aviation Security Service, the Road Safety Trust and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.
The MoT provides policy advice to the government to help it meet its objectives for transport including advice on legislation and policy, funding levels and priorities, and Crown agency governance, performance and accountability.
The NZ Transport Agency is a Crown entity tasked with promoting safe and functional transport by land, including managing the state highway network, managing the allocation of funding to land transport, and the responsibility for driver and vehicle licensing. It was created in 2008 by the Land Transport Management Amendment Act and merged Transit NZ with Land Transport NZ.
KiwiRail is the trading name for the New Zealand Railways Corporation. KiwiRail is a statutory corporation operating with several business units. One of those business units is KiwiRail Infrastructure (formerly ONTRACK) which maintains and improves the rail network and controls the operation of trains on the network. KiwiRail also provides rail freight services, provides locomotives for passenger services, operates the Cook Strait Ferry, operates long distance passenger train services, and provides urban passenger services in Wellington (under contract to the Greater Wellington Regional Council).
Regional and unitary councils are responsible for preparing regional policy statements and plans and, through regional land transport committees, preparing regional land transport strategies. They are also responsible for administering public transport funding within their areas, and for preparing passenger transport plans.
Apart from being responsible for preparing and administering district plans, cities and district councils also maintain and develop local roads and walking and cycling facilities, prepare travel demand management programmes (e.g. parking) and initiate strategic transport-related land purchases and development. City and district councils (along with their regional and unitary equivalents) have an important role in identifying community outcomes, including those with transport implications, and gaining stakeholder input into planning town centres and corridors.
Other organisations involved in transportation need to be considered when developing transportation provisions for resource management policies and plans. These include:
- Auckland Transport
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA)
- Road user groups (including NZ Road Transport Associations and NZ Automobile Association)
- Road and rail transport operators (including the Bus and Coach Association of New Zealand).