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Nat's RMA reforms endanger environment: Greens

30 September 2008

Nat's RMA reforms endanger environment: Greens

Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says the National Party's plans to reform the Resource Management Act are a misguided 'business-first, community-second, environment-last' policy.

Dr Norman says National's RMA gutting will undermine New Zealanders' ability to protect our environment, and the ability of the community to have a fair say.

"National's plan to narrowly define 'environment' as just natural and physical resources will remove New Zealanders' ability to have a say on landscape and amenity values. This has been rejected before, and those who enjoy outdoor recreation and scenery should be very, very worried.

"I am particularly concerned with plans to remove the so-called 'ministerial veto' on coastal consents. It is not a veto, it's about exercising authority on behalf of the owners of coastal environment, the public.

"For example, the Conservation Minister must have a say in a development such as at Te Arai Beach in the Rodney region, home to breeding pairs of the 35-40 fairy terns left in New Zealand - our rarest bird.

"Planned developments in the area would inevitably introduce predators and are likely to deal a fatal blow to yet another piece of New Zealand's native wildlife. National would deny the Conservation Minister's ability to protect them from extinction.

"Allowing developers to intimidate community groups by using the threat of security for costs is a backwards step that will also reduce public participation and result in unsustainable development.

"National's proposal to replace the water programme with collaborative governance - a process that may take years - would only help solve our water pollution crisis if accompanied by a moratorium on new discharge consents and water takes in sensitive catchments.

"While it is a relief they would retain the Greens' hard-won legal aid for community groups, the policy hides previously-stated intent to restrict its use, leaving community groups to run cake-stalls to raise funds to oppose multi-millionaire developers."

ENDS

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