Yet another environmental attack from National Government

The Resource Management Act is a cornerstone of environmental management in New Zealand. We may hear complaints about it, but rarely do we think about what our back yards, our beaches, our streets, parks and rivers would look like without it.   Our living space would be much worse off if the RMA was not there to ensure developers made some effort to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of their developments.

The Resource Management (RM) Reform Bill is the National Government’s latest attack on the legislation which governs how we treat nature.  Earlier in 2012 we have had the Exclusive Economic Zone and Extended Continental Shelf Act – extending environmental protection out into the EEZ. Or it would if that was its purpose. Unfortunately it’s not. Regulations under the  EEZ Act may see  high risk offshore oil exploration being  a permitted  or controlled activity (where the EPA can’t say no but can only  impose conditions).

Then we had the Crown Minerals Bill 2012, which gives the Minster for Energy and Resources joint decision making power over applications to mine on conservation land. The Minister for Conservation remains in the loop but given this Government’s support for mining and willingness to put the interests of industry before conservation the Minister of Energy’s views will prevail.

And at the end of 2012 we have the  piecemeal and ad hoc RM Reform Bill. It has been introduced with no public discussion or consensus on what the aims of “reform” should be. It tilts the playing field further in favour of development.

The bill promotes speedy decisions by councils at the expense of good decisions and restricts access to the Environment Court, including on the Auckland Combined Plan.  National is attempting to silence opposition to its “dig it, drill it, mine it, irrigate it” agenda by making it harder for NGOs to advocate for the environment.

The Bill will also make it harder for councils to have plan policies and rules to control intensive land uses such as intensive agriculture to protect our lakes, rivers and groundwater. This is because of new criteria for s32 assessments under the Act which give great weight to the economic impacts in any cost benefit analysis. We should be working to clean up our waterways not making it more difficult for councils to introduce regulation.

6 Comments Posted

  1. The problem is that we have this odd notion that individuals can own land…

    Yeah, not a new attitude, and indeed one not confined to humankind: my cat believes some land that she manages is hers, and spends a lot of time putting up signposts to that end, and is willing to defend it against all comers. Of course, her tenure is temporary, as her kind have not (yet?) developed the written word and the concept of a contract.

    TV3 are currently playing trailers for “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, on next weekend, in which Klaatu (portrayed by Keanu Reeves) when asked what he’s doing on our planet replies “your planet?”

    though no such ability pertains to air, or ocean


    It was regular contributor Jackal who put it best in this thread when discussing climate change:

    After all, carbon molecules carry no passport

    The exact same is true of water molecules.

  2. The problem is that we have this odd notion that individuals can own land, though no such ability pertains to air, or ocean.

    We have to work out a different mechanism for that than “ownership” because it is actually “stewardship” that we practice, whether we realize it or not.

    As for changes to favor development, that isn’t what we are getting. The problem here in NZ is that we have not reduced the incentives for malinvestment and have not opened up other centers and made better use of our capabilities.

    We face some unprecedented challenges over the next two centuries, and an economy based on selling one another hamburgers and houses isn’t going to do us, or our children, a lot of good.

  3. The RMA is being hobbled so National can push its programme of economic growth at any cost.

    When it comes to water resources, the Natz appear to regard NZ rivers as a public asset which they can use to buy the rural vote. Hence the boosting of irrigation schemes in Hawkes Bay and (most recently) Wairarapa.

    The deal is simple: irrigators will get free water (a public asset) and taxpayer handouts, while in return politicians get votes. The environment pays the price.

    No doubt the irrigation companies will receive the same light-handed regulation which finance companies received in the past.

  4. I agree the earth’s resources need to me managed SUSTAINABLY.. as opposed to the attitude of many on the right who appear to see the earth as a pile of resources for unfettered exploitation, regardless of the effects on soils, water & air (the three things in the environment, we need to look after most.. we cannot live on the planet without them being clean & healthy)


  5. “It tilts the playing field further in favour of development.”

    Housing and rents are sky high in Auckland. How does the Green Party plan to attenuate the housing shortage, if not by making development more attractive?

  6. Hooray, nice to see costly roadblocks to growth and jobs reduced.The next step should be to stop funding all those NGO’s. I mean how silly is it for the govt to give money to organisations so they can use the money to lobby the govt back!
    Just crazy.How many hip replacements and school teachers could we hire if we saved that money.Truly, anybody who actually cares about the people of this country must agree that unnecessary costs must be cut to ensure the delivery of education, health and the framework for increased employment. These are the things which benefit our citizens and reduce poverty. You dont like people being poor do you Eugenie?

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