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NRT: The PCE on RMA “reform”

Written By: - Date published: 11:29 am, April 4th, 2013 - 8 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, national - Tags: , ,

I/S at No Right Turn on the undermining of the Resource Management Act

The PCE on RMA “reform”

Back in February the government announced plans to remove democracy from the RMA so that its cronies could dig, bulldoze and build whatever they liked, whereever they liked. But in addition to reducing consultation and allowing Ministers to override the will of local communities, the government is also planning to weaken the core environmental purpose of the RMA, by making enabling development a “matter of national importance”, while removing intrinsic environmental values and amenity values. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has looked at the proposed changes, and they are not impressed:

Dr Wright told Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme the proposed changes muddy the overwhelming focus of the Act which to protect the environment, and risk turning it into an Economic Development Act.

“It’s not the job of the RMA to promote economic development. It’s the job of the RMA to look after the environment while economic development takes place.”

Dr Wright said the changes will also give rise to legal wrangling as lawyers and courts try to interpret whether economic or environmental effects have more influence.

Of course, an Economic Development Act is exactly what National wants. Environmental protection stands in the way of their cronies making money and (or by) dumping their costs on the rest of us, so it has to go. So I expect that in the end our statutory watchdog will be contemptuously ignored… again.

The PCE’s full submission is here.

8 comments on “NRT: The PCE on RMA “reform” ”

  1. lprent 1

    Time to forget the RMA process as it appears that the National party doesn’t want planning. However the whole area of bringing civil torts like nuisance back into the courts can now be explored.

    • Peter 1.1

      Well, “planning” and “environmental management” are two quite different things. It’s long been argued that the RMA is largely an environmental management statute, dictating process and roles and resources, rather than fully empowering planning. Overseas planning statutes are written quite differently to the RMA, although there’s no guarantee that they do it better either, just differently. At the core of the argument is whether you regulate “activities” (Town and Country Planning Act), or the effects of activities (the RMA), or some amalgam of the two.

      On the whole though, we’ve got away for a long time without serious planning in NZ, because we haven’t faced real limits, not of land, energy, or water, or finite minerals. In my submission on the RMA reforms – which I don’t expect to be read – I stated that the only way a community can plan with any sense of certainty of outcome is on expected trends in resource availability. Otherwise it’s like drafting Labour Party policy at a regional conference – all motherhood and apple pie statements.

      Give communities a clear picture of the limits that they face at the beginning, and you may see better plans. But of course, if we remove the reference to limits, they’ll just go away right, like turning the warning light off…

  2. This is extremely sad to read.
    This WILL create a severe waste of money and time and create instability and stress in communities. The type of thing RMA aims to protect for example is inappropriate development on the coastline. Inappropriate developments are STILL being consented now, even without the changes.

    Dear Parliamentary Members (both sides of the house)

    I ask you to please connect with other countries and check out the terrible situations these other countries face due to their dreadfully planned villages and infrastructure, for example, too close to the sea.

    The developers make a killing and then people owning the houses in years to come are going to be coming to the Government for compensation because their house is falling into the ocean.

    This situation is entirely avoidable in New Zealand.

    Please add that into your cost-saving-profit-and-growth-creating equations prior to afflicting us with this short sighted approach.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      The developers make a killing and then people owning the houses in years to come are going to be coming to the Government for compensation because their house is falling into the ocean.

      IIRC, there’s already some like that in NZ.

      Kapiti erosion risk may devalue 1800 homes

      • blue leopard 2.1.1

        Yes, it would be good if people “running” this country, and those voting them in, would connect the dots.


        “Um I put this expensive building by the ocean, I create risk.”
        “Um I pour toxins onto the earth and rivers, my environment becomes toxic”

        This seems to be an impossible skill for a lot of people…so instead of applying a bit of rationality to the equation, we collectively appear to be deciding: “Lets not worry about thinking things through; we might make problems for people further along in time, but it doesn’t matter, we won’t be alive to be bothered by it.”

  3. Peter 3

    Things are starting to heat up for them on this. Most of the “true” conservatives I know, National Party voting conservatives are opposed, partially from a lingering concern for the environment, and partially from a concern at the uncertainty. They largely know what to expect from the RMA currently, and whilst they don’t always like it, they know it. Anything new will be seriously costly, and you can expect well-funded environmental groups to become better funded, and to take more lengthy legal action. You can also, and it’s happening already, expect serious push-back from local government, who are almost all opposed to the RMA changes.

    Rank and file Nats aren’t happy either – I know a few, working internal challenges. I can’t see them getting the numbers on it, not if enough pressure is put on Peter Dunne. I expect John Key to take a few polls and tell his Minister to back down eventually.

    But for now, keep heaping the pressure on them – they deserve nothing less for proposing this.

    • @ Peter
      I’m glad to hear that there is some opposition within Nat Party voters to this. I thought most would be falling for the “cutting-red-tape” propaganda.

      Involving longer-term environmental considerations into decisions may seem laborious, yet it saves a lot (costs and heartache) in the long run.

      This government are a pack of cowboys.

      • Peter 3.1.1

        There is very little red tape on average consenting anyway, and most of them know that.

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