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Analysis of Proposed Freshwater RMA - Sir Geoffrey Palmer

Protecting New Zealand’s Environment

An Analysis of the Government’s Proposed Freshwater Management and Resource Management Act 1991 Reforms

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

September 2013

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report has been prepared at the request of the New Zealand Fish and Game Council in response to the Government’s announced proposals to amend the Resource Management Act 1991 and reform freshwater management. It analyses the nature, extent and implications of those proposals for the protection of New Zealand’s natural environment and its recreational enjoyment by all New Zealanders.

I have concluded that the environmental protection offered by the Act will be weakened by the passage of the Government’s proposed changes. No amount of assertion or assurances given can alter that analytical fact. Further, the journey to finding out the precise consequences of the changes will be long, expensive and uncertain.

The Resource Management Act represented a deliberate shift on the part of New Zealanders away from economic advancement at any cost towards long-term economic and environmental sustainability. It expressly acknowledged that the state of the natural environment and New Zealand’s economic development were inextricably linked. It was enacted with broad political support after years of public consultation. The Government’s proposals fundamentally erode that commitment to sustainability.

The Government’s proposals will rewrite the principles at the very heart of the Act. Sections 6 and 7 set out the signposts by which decision-makers can achieve the Act’s purpose of “sustainable management”. The Government’s proposals will replace those provisions with a single list of competing considerations, under which principles protecting the natural environment and its recreational enjoyment will be consistently weakened, and principles promoting development will be consistently strengthened. Two decades of case-law built up in relation to the interpretation of the Act will be rendered redundant.

Read Full Report Here: Fish_and_Game_RMA_Paper__FINAL_PRINT.pdf

ENDS

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