RMA and Key’s right-wing slashers

BACKWARD STEP: Our environment is at risk if the Resource Management act is watered down.Anton Oliver [stuff.co.nz]

### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 21/07/2013
Gutting the RMA – it’s time to be concerned
By Anton Oliver
Source: Sunday Star-Times
OPINION | The Resource Management Act (RMA) has sadly become a much maligned and misunderstood piece of legislation: a kind of universal public punching bag – if mentioned in conversation, it is almost obligatory to put the slipper in. To most Kiwis it represents bureaucracy and inefficiency – pen-pushing do-gooders and paper shufflers who engage us in excessively long and costly processes that get in the way of us Kiwis doing stuff.
In fact the RMA – passed in 1991 – was a means of rectifying mistakes and providing at least some environmental and social integrity to development and planning process. It was recognised by legal minds to be a world-leading piece of legislation. It protected our environment and our economy based on the premise of sustainable resource management. What’s more, it was politically robust in that it received the blessing of both major parties.
It also gave New Zealanders a chance to be heard and it facilitated local decisions made by local people. While the country’s environmental indicators such as water quality and biodiversity loss have still gone backwards – the RMA has stemmed what would otherwise have been fatal haemorrhaging.
Similarly, the RMA has protected a set of fundamental Kiwi values: the notion of fairness and equity in regard to everyone having a right to their say; industry and other activities being required to take responsibility for avoiding, remedying or mitigating adverse environmental impacts; and developments being required to have regard to effects on such things as recreation, scenic values, private property rights, and the public’s access to rivers, lakes and beaches.
That’s all about to change.
The Government plans to alter the Act to give greater weight to economic development over environmental considerations, granting to itself the right to veto any issue. You don’t have to be legal-minded to see the impact of subtle word changes. While the consideration for the “benefits” of a project remains, gone are any references to the “costs”, making a cost-benefit analysis redundant because environmental “cost” is out of the equation.
Gone, too, are the words: “maintenance and enhancement of amenity values”. That’s basically any recreational activity – walking, running, swimming, fishing, kayaking. Who likes doing that stuff anyway? Thankfully the “importance and value of historic heritage” stays. But its cobber, “protection from inappropriate subdivision and development” gets the boot – making the first clause meaningless. And my personal favourite, “maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment” has been politely asked to leave. Clearly such an unruly clause has no place in a legal act that’s trying to protect the environment.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, has a different interpretation. She thinks the changes “muddy the overwhelming focus of the RMA, to protect the environment, and risk turning it into an Economic Development Act”. Similarly alarmed, the architect of the RMA, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, concludes: “The [proposed changes] will significantly and seriously weaken the ability of the RMA to protect the natural environment and its recreational enjoyment by all New Zealanders.”

The changes also grant considerable new powers to central government, giving it the ability to take individual consent decisions away from local councils and place them in a new national body. The changes go further still, by allowing government the right to insert provisions in local council plans without any consultation.
Read more

● Former All Black Anton Oliver is an ambassador for Water Conservation Order NZ.

Related Posts and Comments:
21.4.13 *fashionable* Heritage Dunedin and the RMA holocaust
17.3.13 RMA Bill: Public meeting 21 March
6.7.12 Recommended changes to RMA explode environmental protection

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: stuff.co.nz – Anton Oliver

12 Comments

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12 responses to “RMA and Key’s right-wing slashers

  1. [The council] still had major concerns about the costs of the changes to ratepayers and customers, a reduction in public participation, and serious doubts about whether the changes would achieve the intended outcomes.

    ### ODT Online Fri, 23 Aug 2013
    Council wary of looming changes to RMA
    By Debbie Porteous
    Dunedin City Council staff still have serious concerns about the resource management system reform document released recently, despite changes made to it following consultation. Staff say the changes have all but ignored the submissions of councils and they still expect the reforms, which have been outlined only generally in the document, to have limited benefits for people using the Resource Management Act (RMA), and not inconsiderable set-up costs for the council. Council resource consent manager Alan Worthington stopped short of saying the Government had ignored the feedback it received on its discussion document. He said the council could only form a firm opinion on the impacts of the proposed changes once it had seen the detail of the Resource Management Reform Bill, which is to be introduced by the end of the year.
    Read more

    • Just as the National-led Government begins readying changes to the Resource Management Act to finally unlock oil, gas and mineral exploration, it this month lost its parliamentary majority to change the RMA. Senior business reporter Simon Hartley looks at public interest in the unfolding issues.

      ### ODT Online Mon, 30 Sep 2013
      Shadows over resources sector
      By Simon Hartley
      In the year ahead, the industry, environmentalists and public will be hearing much about “projects of national significance”, proposed RMA changes and the small print of “affected parties” behind non-notification of consent applications. The proposed RMA changes include the Government considering a nine-month time frame for the consenting process for projects of national significance, all part of streamlining the processes for oil and gas, and resource extraction. Non-notification for consents feeds directly into the industry and the Government’s preferences, which includes the controversial onshore production practice of fracking, and the more recently proposed non-notification of discharges and dumping at sea by oil rigs.

      In the latest twist, the Maori Party and United Future pledged in Parliament not to support Ms Adams’ RMA changes, prompting Forest and Bird and Labour to call on the Government to dump the planned changes. The pledge means the Government has lost its parliamentary majority to pass RMA reforms. Labour and the Green Party further pledged to repeal any legislative changes if they win the next election.

      The same day, Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC waded into the Government in a report to Fish and Game on the changes to the RMA and freshwater management. He said the changes had “the potential to significantly restrict the ability of ordinary New Zealanders to have their say” on the impact of commercial development on environmental and recreational concerns.
      Read more

  2. Elizabeth

    ### NZ Herald Online 4:56 PM Thursday Jan 29, 2015
    Business | Property
    Chinese biggest buyers of NZ land in 2014
    – BusinessDesk
    Americans have been the biggest buyers of New Zealand land in the past five years although the Chinese topped the list in 2014 alone. Figures released by Land Information New Zealand of approved investments since 2010 shows a breakdown of buyers by country and by industry. The figures come amid renewed concern over foreign buyers contributing to rising house prices, particularly in Auckland, and of increasing amounts of farmland heading into offshore hands.

    Of the 646,190 hectares sold during the five years, Americans bought the most at 168,154 hectares. UK residents, who headed the list in 2010, came in second over the five-year period buying a total 66,932 hectares, followed by Israel on 52,325 hectares and Switzerland on 36,965. Chinese buyers came in fifth at 34,908 hectares, although they headed the list with 10,989 hectares bought in 2014, a big jump from just 53 hectares in 2010, and attracted the most criticism.

    The figures show forestry and logging was the chief use on the land bought over the period at 329,849 hectares, just under half the total sold.
    Read more

  3. Elizabeth

    “The RMA is an omnibus statute.” –Chris Thomsen

    ### ODT Online Wed, 18 Feb 2015
    More to RMA changes than meets the eye
    By Chris Thomsen
    OPINION —Much deeper issues need to be considered in Resource Management Act changes than just housing affordability.
    At the Minister for the Environment’s speech on Resource Management Act reform earlier this year, it was interesting to see how the report on regulation in residential property development was being used to justify wider changes to the Act. […] Dr Smith describes this National Government as a “Bluegreen Government” that is “up front” about wanting to utilise the country’s natural resources to drive economic growth. So this is where the real scrutiny and public debate should fall. […] The original authors of the RMA thought we could have environmental bottom lines and the market would then regulate our use of resources. This faith in the markets to behave in a way that leads to efficient use of resources does seem to have been misplaced.
    Read more

    ● Chris Thomsen is head of Resource Management at Webb Farry Lawyers.

    Related Posts and Comments:
    23.1.15 Chris Trotter on National’s “developers’ charter” #RMA reforms
    19.1.15 Housing affordability in this country is “just hopeless” –Hugh Pavletich
    21.4.13 *fashionable* Heritage Dunedin and the RMA holocaust
    17.3.13 RMA Bill: Public meeting 21 March
    6.7.12 Recommended changes to RMA explode environmental protection

  4. Cars

    There are two issues here

    1. Chinese land purchasers – in the 1980s Japanese were buying the land, spending a fortune developing some of it and then selling it back to kiwis at a huge loss when their currency and economies broke down. One advantage of selling land, you cannot take it with you. It might take longer for the Chinese, but it also might happen this year if the expected Chinese economic crash happens.

    Development free that is.

    2. The RMA – the major problem is the ridiculous costs of obtaining consents. Generally consultants overcharge for their services (one drainage consultant charged me $350 for a copy of a letter reiterated).

    The ambitions of the RMA may be worthy, but the cost of obtaining consents will always ensure that the cost of doing real business in New Zealand will ensure that entrepreneurs will stick with recyclable property rather than real productivity.

    This may suit government employees and university lecturers, but they also do not directly increase productivity and therefore real wealth per capita.

    • Gurglars

      Chinese crash is occurring. Watch the chinese retreat!

      Maybe not, the Chinese were in commerce 10,000 years before the Europeans left chasing the mammoth.

      Perhaps the Chinese are outsmarting the west and the devaluation is designed to weaken western economies (see the dairy industry) and ultimately allow them to buy everything – cheaply.

      The good news – you won’t find the real answer in any newspaper.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      I disagree about university lecturers. They directly increase “productivity” or overseas funds through students who come from overseas to NZ universities. Many also do research work that ends up as real earners through product development, primary produce improvements (processing, pest & disease control) and development of materials. Indirectly they add value by educating snot-nosed kiwi school leavers, many of whom become much more able and productive as a result of tertiary education.

      • Elizabeth

        Amazing work at Otago – MAJOR aside….

        University of Otago researcher Dr Rajesh Katare has helped clarify a molecular mechanism linking diabetes and heart disease, and hopes to develop a new blood marker test for a key protein.

        ### ODT Online Thu, 13 Aug 2015
        Major diabetes discovery
        By John Gibb
        A University of Otago research discovery has shed new light on links between diabetes and heart disease and could help “greatly decrease” the impact of New Zealand’s growing diabetes epidemic. Otago University researchers, led by Dr Rajesh Katare, a senior lecturer in the Otago physiology department, have discovered why heart disease is the leading killer of people with diabetes.
        Read more

        • Hype O'Thermia

          Amazing, exciting, thrilling.
          Wouldn’t it be great if there were give-a-little sites for specific teams/projects so people all over the world who are personally close to the problems being worked on by these excellent people, could flick them five bucks! There are a lot of people in the world, a lot of diabetics with a lot of friends and families………..
          These team-specific donations would have to be ring-fenced so the university/government doesn’t get hold of the money, nor is able to cut back the funding they are due from the NZ tax wallet. If oversubscribed the team would have the right to donate to another research project – all to be fully disclosed on the donation site.

        • Elizabeth

          LIKE :)

  5. Elizabeth

    “Councils have been excessively captured by nimbyism that has seen insufficient provision made for either greenfields or brownfields development.” — Nick Smith

    ### NZ Herald Online 3:32 PM Thursday Aug 13, 2015
    New plans announced for urban development, biodiversity, hazards and aquaculture
    By Jamie Morton – science reporter, NZ Herald
    Environment Minister Nick Smith has outlined proposed new blueprints for urban development, aquaculture, biodiversity and natural hazards. Dr Smith today released the Government’s Programme of National Direction under the Resource Management Act while addressing more than 300 delegates gathered at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre for the Environmental Defence Society’s annual conference. […] Speaking around the need for a new urban development NPS, Dr Smith told the delegates that councils had not adequately planned for growth, which had contributed to the sorts of housing supply and affordability problems in places like Auckland and Queenstown.
    Read more

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Funny the people who use the word “nimby”. Not in my back yard. Seldom those most likely to have their own comfort adversely affected. Yes, funny, that.
      There’s another way of looking at it: if I don’t care for and protect my own back yard who the farnarkle will?

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