14 March 2016

Take care amending the RMA, warns Environment Commissioner

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment acknowledges the concern about housing that lies behind many of the proposed changes to the RMA. But she warns that some go too far. 

“I can see that making planning processes faster and simpler in some situations is a good thing”, said Dr Jan Wright. “But the Bill goes too far in stopping people having their say on important environmental matters.” 

Dr Wright today released her advice to Parliament on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. 

Proposed amendments include the Minister being able to shut out certain voices and make changes to council plans. 

“Sometimes Government intervention is the right thing to do. But more checks and balances are needed. The powers granted to the Minister are too wide-ranging.” 

The RMA is now 25 years old and has been amended many times. Dr Wright also makes the point that it may be time for a fundamental rethink about how we protect our environment and how we plan our cities. 

“The housing problem is spreading beyond Auckland. And climate change means that we must make our cities more compact and prepare for rising seas and more intense rainfall.”

The Commissioner has made six recommendations on the Bill – three concerned with the direction given by the Government to councils and three focused on changes to council processes. 

The submission is available here.

ENDS 

For more information contact Tom Crick on 0220323480