by Eugenie Sage
Environment Minister, Amy Adams recently launched a “discussion document” on National’s latest proposals to weaken the Resource Management Act (RMA). She then sought to shut down any discussion by attacking environmental groups and the Greens by claiming we were “out of touch” and “scaremongering” with our criticisms of National’s proposed changes to the RMA. The RMA is the cornerstone of how communities protect the places and spaces that they hold dear. It sets the framework for what can happen in a place.
We know New Zealanders want our neighbourhoods and wild places protected from unwise development, just as respected organisations such as EDS and Forest and Bird do. The Government doesn’t seem to agree. It has given you the opportunity to tell them they are wrong. That you want to be able to stand up for the places that you hold dear.
What the Government wants to do to the RMA is not okay. National’s proposals include:
- weakening the core environmental protection principles at the heart of Act and its sustainable management purpose. This would make it harder to stop environmentally destructive projects;
- increasing the ability of Ministers to interfere and direct councils to changes their regional and district plans. More decisions will be made in the Beehive, instead of in local communities.
- allowing Ministers to push through projects and ignore environmental impacts if they want to;
- allowing certain types of resource consents (mining perhaps?) to not be publicly notified so there is no chance for the public to say and decisions are made in secret.
- severely curtailing the role of the Environment Court
- limiting public involvement in resource consent decisions to reduce the costs to property developers, miners and others.
The Minister is right when she says that “and it is now time for the Government to step-up[.]” But instead of stepping up to help developers how about the Environment Minister standing up for the environment instead of further weakening the RMA ?
The Government is only allowing a very short time until 2 April to comment on the proposals. The Ministry for the Environment’s schedule of public meetings is here. Remind the Government that we want to be able to protect the places we love by making a submission or speaking out at a meeting.