RMA changes not supported by Greens
By Peter Wilson
The Greens won't follow Labour's lead and support the Government's proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA).
Labour says the bill is "a step in the right direction" but the Greens won't have a bar of it.
"Any changes to the law should provide more protection for the environment, not less," said Eugenie Sage.
"Instead, many of the changes weaken rather than improve protection and reduce opportunities for public participation."
Environment Minister Nick Smith last week announced he had struck a deal with the Maori Party to get the bill through its first reading.
It had been stalled since 2013 because the Government didn't have the numbers.
Dr Smith had to drop some of the the bill's most contentious clauses to gain the Maori Party's support.
Labour's environment spokesman, David Parker, says his party has always been prepared to support sensible improvements to RMA processes," he said.
"We are pleased National lost the battle to undermine the core environmental protections in the Act."
Labour isn't impressed with the bill but says it will have "some positive impacts around the margins."
Dr Smith dropped plans to change sections six and seven of the act, which set out its purpose, and give more weight to economic considerations.
The watered-down bill will make it easier and quicker for building consents to be issued by streamlining the processes councils use.
It has been generally welcomed by the business and local government sectors.
Labour's support will ensure Dr Smith has a strong majority for the bill when it comes up for its first reading tomorrow.
Labour and the Maori Party haven't guaranteed their support beyond the first reading.