Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The PCE on RMA "reform"

Back in February the government announced plans to remove democracy from the RMA so that its cronies could dig, bulldoze and build whatever they liked, whereever they liked. But in addition to reducing consultation and allowing Ministers to override the will of local communities, the government is also planning to weaken the core environmental purpose of the RMA, by making enabling development a "matter of national importance", while removing intrinsic environmental values and amenity values. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has looked at the proposed changes, and they are not impressed:

Dr Wright told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme the proposed changes muddy the overwhelming focus of the Act which to protect the environment, and risk turning it into an Economic Development Act.

"It's not the job of the RMA to promote economic development. It's the job of the RMA to look after the environment while economic development takes place."

Dr Wright said the changes will also give rise to legal wrangling as lawyers and courts try to interpret whether economic or environmental effects have more influence.

Of course, an Economic Development Act is exactly what National wants. Environmental protection stands in the way of their cronies making money and (or by) dumping their costs on the rest of us, so it has to go. So I expect that in the end our statutory watchdog will be contemptuously ignored... again.

The PCE's full submission is here.