Greens: RMA reforms will 'lock people out of having their say'
The Green Party has criticised proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying the overhaul would leave many people out of the consultation loop.
The Government has finally secured the numbers to change the legislation after getting the backing of the Maori Party.
The proposed changes are expected to reduce unnecessary red tape and speed up construction, which could help ease Auckland's desperate housing market.
But Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the changes will leave too many people without the means to voice their opinion on changes in their neighbourhoods.
"The major part [of the legislation] will be locking people out of consultation and having a say," Ms Turei told the Paul Henry programme this morning.
She says even under the current laws, only a relatively small number of people are actually involved in the process.
"More than 90 percent of the consents that are issued under the RMA are not notified, there's only a really small proportion where people get a chance to have a say about what happens in their neighbourhood and we think their right to have a say should be protected.
"There are people who are affected by the decisions that other people make, they should have the right to say [something] about that."
Ms Turei conceded that for some large projects and developments the RMA could hold up progress, "but in the vast majority of cases the RMA is not the block, it is argued to be so by developers and by Government, who doesn't like it, but actually the RMA already sets the parameters of balancing the environment with people's right to have a say for what goes on, and that balance is now being undone by these reforms."
"We're talking about people's neighbourhoods; there are big issues in Auckland at the moment about the nature of development in Auckland City - should Aucklanders be locked out of having a say about what happens in their city?"
The changes have been welcomed by the Local Government New Zealand, which said they would lead to processes being made easier and more cost efficient for councils and communities.
The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill will have its first reading in Parliament next Thursday, before being referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.
Watch the video for the full interview with Ms Turei.