DOC: RMA changes will stop us doing our job

Department of Conservation papers released to Forest & Bird under the OIA state that proposed changes to the RMA will prevent DOC from being able to fulfil its statutory role of protecting biodiversity.

One of the changes proposed in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill which would reform the RMA is to specify who can submit on some types of resource consent applications.

Forest & Bird lawyer Sally Gepp says “DOC officials warned the Minister that both DOC and the Minister herself might no longer be able to make submissions on matters affecting their statutory responsibilities.”

"Parliament has given DOC responsibility to speak up for New Zealand’s natural environment. The public relies on DOC to be able to do this, but DOC has told its own minister the bill before Parliament may have the effect of silencing their voice where development is concerned,” Ms Gepp says.

Forest & Bird has lodged its own submission on the proposed RMA reforms today, saying “As well as limiting the ability of statutory agencies to do their job, the Bill will also substantially limit public participation in planning and consenting decisions and to erode requirements for development to occur within environmental limits."

“If the existing RMA has any issue, it is the absence of public scrutiny of most consent applications. The Government’s proposed changes are focused on even further restricting public input, allowing big, environmentally damaging proposals to progress without communities or advocates being able to have a say," says Ms Gepp.