Submission to the Environment Select Committee on the “Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015”

Executive Summary

Thank you for the opportunity to submit on the proposed changes to the Resource ManagementAct, the most important piece of legislation pertaining to environmental sustainability in New Zealand. On balance, while we understand the need to clarify and simplify the RMA and find a good balance between national and local interests in resource management, we do not support the proposed amendments, as they do not address the recognised issues with the RMA in ways that strengthen its fundamental purpose as a procedural piece of legislation that supports the sustainable management of natural resources. We make 10 specific recommendations in our submission. They are summarised here:

Recommendation 1: That section 70A Application to climate change of rules relating to discharge of greenhouse gases be repealed, allowing regional councils to consider greenhouse gas emissions as a polluting discharge to air when considering resource consent applications.

Recommendation 2: That the select committee process address the poor explanations made of the amendments to the public, and the inadequate consultation process through improved drafting and public documents as well as a series of public meetings and improved public input about the changes to this crucial piece of legislation.

Recommendation 3: The Select Committee needs to see National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards as a bare minimum and reject this proposed amendment.

Recommendation 4: Reject any proposed amendment that allows the Minister or central government to remove council bylaws through an undefined argument of “unreasonableness” as an undermining of the fundamental purpose of the Resource Management Act.

Recommendation 5: Strengthen this proposed amendment to specifically mention the need to adapt to the already locked in impacts of climate change, including the need to develop regional climate change mitigation plans in partnership with other relevant agencies (such as public health units and civil defence).

Recommendation 6: Accompany this amendment with responsibilities for local government to support local government with the skills and financial resources needed for climate change adaptation planning and action.

Recommendation 7: Strengthen part (1) of the insertion from a single invitation required to require invitations to all iwi whose recognised rohe fall within the regional boundary.

Recommendation 8: Include as part of formal iwi participation arrangements a requirement to also provide for the meaningful participation of Māori who are either manuhiri in the region or who are not able to or choose not to whakapapa to a particular iwi.

Recommendation 9: All amendments to the act that limit participation of individuals and organisations whose role is to speak on behalf of the environment/ecosystems/species and public health in plan-making and resource consent processes need to be rejected.

Recommendation 10: All amendments that move powers of decision-making from democratic regional planning and consent processes and national judicial processes through the Environment Court, to the Minister and appointed Boards or the EPA should be rejected.

Read full submission here.


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