Local authorities are frequently breaching the law by not processing resource consents on time, a report has found.
Environment Minister Nick Smith says the two-yearly report on administration of the Resource Management Act shows a change in law and practice is needed.
Dr Smith says there were frustrating delays in getting consents processed within the legal time frames last year for more than 16,000 homeowners, businesses and farmers.
He wants local authorities to be penalised for not processing resource consents on time. He is also asking eight councils that regularly breach the law more often than they comply with it to improve their records.
Twenty-five councils delivering 90% or better compliance were commended.
An amendment bill to simplify and streamline the Resource Management Act is being considered by the Environment and Local Government Select Committee.