Resource Management Act changes bad, will 'add fuel to the climate crisis fire' - Opposition

  • 23/04/2024

The Opposition says proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) reflect "an absurd dereliction of duty" from the Government.

On Tuesday, the Coalition announced comprehensive changes to the Act - including repealing winter grazing rules for farmers and the ability for resource consent applications to bypass demonstrating compliance with the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM). 

The Green Party's environment spokesperson Lan Pham said the RMA changes would "accelerate the decline of our natural world and add fuel to the climate crisis fire". 

Pham said the Government was "hellbent on pushing our natural environment to the brink, exploiting everything it can for any profit that can be squeezed out of it". 

She said the idea of repealing winter grazing regulations would worsen "the pollution in our waterways and increase the level of harm our animals are exposed to". 

People deserved to know how far the Government was willing to go with its RMA changes, said Labour Party environment spokesperson Rachel Brooking. 

And the changes were being pushed through quickly to avoid public scrutiny, she believed. 

"They will water down rules that prevent our rivers from being polluted and our native species being protected." 

The chief executive of Water New Zealand, Gillian Blythe, noted many councils had suppliers had embraced the NPSFM. 

Greenpeace Aotearoa spokesperson Amanda Larsson noted the NPSFM and winter grazing regulations weren't "perfect, but they are better than nothing". 

"Everyone has a right to know that the water coming out of their kitchen tap is safe to drink and to be able to take a dip in their local river without getting sick, but Christopher Luxon's Government is taking that away from rural New Zealanders. 

Luxon and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop.
Luxon and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Newshub.

"From the smallest towns to the biggest cities, people care deeply about freshwater. If Christopher Luxon and his Government think that they can get away with this direct attack on the country's already seriously polluted rivers, lakes and drinking water, they’ve got another thing coming." 

Meanwhile, the centre-right Taxpayers' Union had hoped the Government would go further, executive director Jordan Williams said. 

"These changes are a step in the right direction in terms of removing ideological and unworkable red tape, but they don't go far enough." 

And Federated Farmers praised the Bill as the Government ending the "war on farming". 

"These impractical rules have been a complete nightmare since the day they were introduced and farmers will be pleased to see the back of them," freshwater spokesperson Colin Hurst said. 

"They were rushed through before the 2020 election by overzealous regulators with a complete disregard for those who would actually need to implement them behind the farm gate."