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Government Should Listen to Reason On RMA

Embargoed till 8am 27 May 2013

27 May 2013

Government Should Listen to Reason On RMA

The Government needs to listen to reason and back pedal on its proposed changes to Part 2 of the Resource Management Act (RMA), said the Green Party today.

“National’s proposed changes weaken the RMA and are anti-environment,” Green Party environment spokesperson, Eugenie Sage said today.

“The changes will make it harder for people to have a say and will mean much less attention is paid to the environment in decision making under the Act.”

One of the RMA’s principal architects, Sir Geoffrey Palmer today warned that the Government’s changes to Part 2 would “significantly and severely weaken the ability of the RMA to protect the natural environment and its recreational enjoyment by all New Zealanders.”

This follows a similar warning by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that the changes would turn the RMA into an act which promoted economic development ahead of the environment.

“Part 2 of the RMA is the heart and engine room of the Act,” Ms Sage said.

“It defines sustainable management - meeting human needs while safeguarding the natural environment.

“National’s proposed changes to Part 2 of the RMA are about making it easier for mining, drilling and irrigation interests. They reflect the anti-environment thrust of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda with its focus on resource exploitation,” Ms Sage said.

“There is no substantive evidence that the RMA obstructs development.”

The Ministry for the Environment’s own survey shows that:

·        more than 99% of more than 36,000 resource consents considered by local authorities each year are approved;

·        95% are processed in accordance with the Act’s timeframes;

·        94% of consents are not notified for public submissions;

·        Only one per cent (350 per year) consent applications are appealed to the Environment Court and 99.9% of cases are settled without a hearing in the Environment Court.”

“The proposed changes cut across 20 years of resource management case law and practice as to what the sustainable management, the purpose of the Act means, said Ms Sage. 

“This will create more, not less certainty in how the Act is applied.

“When the quality of our natural environment continues to decline with increased water pollution and biodiversity loss, nature needs more, not less, attention in RMA decision making.”

Note: The Green Party has organised a “Stand Up for the Environment- Protect Our Law” tour with public meetings in Hamilton, Nelson and Invercargill last week, a meeting in Palmerston North this week and other regional centres in June.

ENDS

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