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Environmental law eroded by National

Embargoed until 4.00 pm Wednesday 28 September 2016

Environmental law eroded by National

Environment Minister Nick Smith's sweeping and controversial changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) will worsen the outlook for water quality, indigenous biodiversity, outstanding landscapes and the state of our environment, the Green Party said today.

The comments follow a joint report on the RMA's environmental outcomes by the Environmental Defence Society for the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development (CID), the Property Council, and the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association. The report states that "the RMA has largely failed to achieve the goal of sustainable [environmental] management to date".

“This report highlights the failure of this National Government to implement the RMA properly and protect our environment,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Nick Smith’s proposed changes to the RMA, currently being considered by select committee, won’t do anything to improve the situation. In fact, they’ll further exacerbate the problems described in this report.

“The report shows National has allowed vested interests to dictate the rules on fresh water, and failed to provide the funding and support for agencies to protect the environment.

“The Bill makes it more difficult for businesses, community organisations and the wider public to have a say about the issues and places that matter to them, by restricting the scope for submissions and allowing councils to strike out public submissions.

“The Government needs to take stock and think how it can help agencies and councils implement the RMA at the national, local and regional levels. It should be providing practical support and guidance to help councils manage the use of our environment.

"The Green Party agrees with the CID report that ‘reform of the resource management system for New Zealand should proceed only where the anticipated improvements are certain and where any changes are based on robust evidence.’

"Nick Smith’s Resource Legislation Amendment Bill fails on both counts. It has been widely criticised, with submitters such as Fonterra and Forest and Bird having similar concerns about the major increase in Ministerial powers at the expense of public participation and access to the courts.

"The Bill gives the Minister wide powers to direct changes to council plans and determine how development activities should be considered.

"The Green Party in government will not proceed with the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. It will focus instead on improving how the RMA is implemented and on monitoring outcomes so that our land, water, air and coast are managed sustainably, and our indigenous habitats and wildlife protected, " Ms Sage said.

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