A Government presentation in Gisborne yesterday on planned changes to the Resource Management Act and freshwater management provided only one side of the story according to a Gisborne District councillor.
“Of course it is the job of the Minister for the Environment and her officials to paint the proposed changes in the best light possible and they did a good job of that” said Manu Caddie. “But there are a lot of concerns about these changes in different parts of the community and the two week timeframe for providing feedback is incredibly tight.”
Mr Caddie has organised another workshop for people interested in discussing the changes in more depth at Gisborne District Council starting 6.30pm next Thursday 21 March.
“The Minister was quite upfront about trying to push these changes through quickly and while the topic may not be as sexy as the Marriage Equality Bill or Asset Sales, the long-term ramifications for the natural environment, habitat protection and community involvement in decision-making are huge.”
Mr Caddie said he is particularly concerned about planned changes to decision-making that will give central government greater powers and reduce opportunities for local control of environmental regulation.
“The RMA was one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in the world in terms of participatory democracy and local control of local issues. Limiting the opportunities for public submissions and the right to appeal a decision will reduce the diversity of information available to decision makers and the quality of decisions.”
Mr Caddie said increasing the influence of commercial interests in decision-making and reducing the level of consideration given to environmental protection may reduce ‘red tape’ for big business and property developers but also impacts on habitat protection and the health of local ecologies.
“There are a few good things in the changes that would bring some more consistency and speed up minor resource consents but there are many aspects to the proposals that will further erode the few protections currently in place for the natural environment.”
Mr Caddie said he is also available to meet with any group or individual interested in discussing the proposed changes.
ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE SOCIETY: EDS response to MfE Discussion Paper
GREENPEACE ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM: http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/en/take-action/Take-action-online/Save-the-RMA/
MfE Discussion Paper: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/rma/improving-our-resource-management-system.html