Cartoons help spread the word to Save the RMA
A new “Save the RMA” Facebook page has already attracted over 300 supporters and will be rolling out cartoons over the next few weeks about the proposed changes to the RMA. The cartoons do a great job of communicating the serious concerns we have about what’s being proposed.
There are also suggestions on the Facebook page about letter-writing to Ministers, or visiting your local MP – www.facebook.com/SaveTheRMA .
Discussion paper – Improving Our Resource Management System
Our right to have a say in what happens where you live is at risk with planned changes to the Resource Management Act.
During the public RMA consultation, the government will be consulted on freshwater reforms recommended by the Land and Water Forum, however several recommendations are notably absent.
This might seem a boring issue for lawyers and planners and Wellington bureaucrats.
It’s not. It’s a real threat that will affect you.
It’s time to stand up for the RMA law that has done so much to keep New Zealand the way New Zealanders like it.
The Government has just finished a series of ‘consultation’ meetings on the changes. It’s been a rushed process, of which we were given almost no notice, and we say that those meetings were a sham.
It adds another to the long list of examples, such as with Christchurch, where this government has ignored our constitutional conventions, democratic processes, and people’s right to have their say.
Forest & Bird, and many of our branches, made a submission. Ministers will now be considering their decisions, and we need to keep the pressure on.
We’ve done it before, when we said ‘no’ to mining our national parks, and the RMA matters just as much.
Take action: what you can do
Please, if you haven’t already done so, sign the Avaaz petition and tell your friends to do the same.
This is an opportunity to reach out to Kiwi expats, and anyone else in the world who loves New Zealand and doesn’t want it undermined.
We want to tell John Key that New Zealanders care, and the world is watching: don’t undermine Aotearoa, John. Save the RMA.
- Take a chance to read our summary of ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ here.
- Read our submission summary here and here
- The Government’s discussion document can be found here, on the right hand side of the screen. Before you try and print it, be aware that it’s 83 pages long.
- To read Forest & Bird's submission see here
- Join our facebook group
Resource Management Reform Bill 2012
The Resource Management Reform Bill, introduced shortly before Christmas, has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee.
Submissions closed on February 28. Forest & Bird's submission is here.
Resource Management Act Reform
Recently announced recommendations from a government-appointed Technical Advisory Group would spell disaster for the Resource Management Act if they were implemented.
Forest & Bird, and our ENGO colleagues, have mounted a campaign to respond.
Along with the Conservation Act, and Schedule 4 to the Crown Minerals Act, the Resource Management Act is among the foundations of our environmental law.
Part 2 of the RMA (sections 5, 6, 7 and 8) is that Act’s most important part.
Proposals are afoot to change it, in ways that would undermine environmental interests, and Forest & Bird’s ability to be an effective voice for nature. It would affect all resource management decision-making and planning.
A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) appointed to advise the government has proposed completely redrafting sections 6 and 7, combining them into one section, omitting some parts, adding others, and redrafting the remainder.
In the redraft, important language requiring decision-makers to recognise and provide for certain things to be protected, preserved, maintained or enhanced would be removed.
The TAG advisory group was asked by the government to review sections 6 and 7 of the Resource Management Act (RMA).
• Along with section 5, these are the Act’s most important sections, which set out its environmental “bottom line” - the sustainable management of natural and physical resources - and “matters of national importance” which are about environmental protection and preservation.
• They are about our taonga. They affect the interpretation of the whole of the rest of the Act, and all of the regulations and planning documents made under it.
• They set the foundations for making decisions that affect all of our natural resources: air, rivers, landscapes, trees, green spaces, soil. The changes proposed would affect planning and decision-making about everything that is built.
• Forest & Bird has joined the Environmental Defence Society (EDS), Fish & Game, Ecologic, Greenpeace New Zealand, and WWF-New Zealand in speaking out in public against these proposals.
• These ENGOs have written an open letter to Mrs Adams, and are seeking an urgent meeting with her to discuss it.
• We think that the TAG has got it wrong, for a number of reasons.
• Where the RMA hasn’t worked well, it’s often because of the failure of secondary things written or developed under it - the regional planning, and government policy statements, that were always going to be needed, and were intended, for the Act to function properly.
• Sections 5 to 7 of the Act aren’t perfect, but until now, for 21 years, there’s largely been political consensus about this part of our environmental law.
• Hon Simon Upton was the National government Minister in charge of the RMA when it was passed. He’s spoken since about the intellectual effort that went in to it, spearheaded by himself and Labour’s Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who prior to 1990 drafted most of the RMA Bill. Subsequent governments have respected that.
• The TAG proposals would change the Act so fundamentally, that we would effectively be abandoning 20 years’ learning and law, and starting again. The whole philosophy of the Act would be undermined.
• The RMA was revolutionary, in writing a commitment to sustainability into environmental law, and recognising two things: that there are limits to “balance”; and that the way of achieving a sustainable balance is to require certain pro-environmental factors to be recognised and provided for.
• According to the TAG report’s authors, because the Act is now 20 years old, it no longer reflects New Zealanders’ priorities.
• Ironically, they’ve proposed reverting to something more similar to the law that we did have 20 years ago, under the Town and Country Planning legislation, which was a mess.
• New Zealanders showed when 40,000 of us marched down Queen St protesting against mining national parks that our values haven’t changed, and there are some environmental boundaries that it would be political suicide to cross.
• Government has not been up-front with New Zealanders about the far-reaching nature of these reforms. There is no government mandate for reform of this very fundamental kind, certainly not without the kind of extensive public process which fed into the development of the RMA, prior to 1991.
• Mrs Adams has focused on the need to better provide for natural hazards in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes.
• Forest & Bird will be looking further at the natural hazards issue, which is important, but we do not think the present proposals respond to it. We think that problems with the planning framework lay elsewhere.
• Others’ advice, including from a different expert TAG, convened by the EDS, agrees. It is also worth noting that the government had been signalling its intention to review sections 6 and 7 of the Act since well before the Christchurch tragedy.
• The ENGOs’ joint open letter explains why suggestions from TAG authors that this would merely codify current law are wrong. This would change the law, which would cost everybody time and money.
• All of the planning documents developed under the former legislation would need to be redone, and many decisions relitigated, at all court levels.
• The letter also outlines a number of the ways in which the environment would be inadequately protected and undermined by these proposals.
• Other changes signalled to the RMA (but not yet announced) include a likely proposal to “streamline and simplify” concession decision making, under the Conservation Act, with RMA decision-making.