What does the Government want to change about the RMA?
Many of the Government’s proposed changes are focussed on restricting public input into RMA processes. This will allow big, environmentally damaging proposals to gain consent without communities or advocates being able to have a say.
Does the RMA hold up growth in a tangle of ‘green tape’?
Only three percent of resource consent applications are ever publically notified. And 99.75 percent of applications are approved. If the RMA has any issue, it is the absence of public scrutiny of most consent applications.
What types of applications are publically notified currently?
The three percent of applications that are publically notified are those with the most significant impacts, where public participation is essential to protect environmental and social bottom lines from profit-driven interests. Public notification doesn’t usually occur for things like households wanting to extend their deck or subdivide their section.
Who will benefit from these proposed changes?
The proposed amendments are not about helping ordinary kiwis deal with local government processes. They are about providing a helping hand to major developers wanting to push through schemes, which may be environmentally damaging by reducing consideration of environmental effects and limiting public input.
What kinds of changes?
There are two separate processes under the RMA – the creation of regional and local plans, which set the rules for what requires consent in the first place, and the consents process, which defines how each separate request will manage its environmental, cultural and social impacts. Both aspects are equally important, and the proposed changes affect them both.
Here are some examples of the Government’s proposed amendments:
- One amendment will prevent people from raising matters not specified by the council. This would leave it to a Council planner to decide, based on the developer’s assessment, what the effects of an activity are and then exclude public input on any other activity.
- Another proposed change is that most subdivisions will be non-notified. This means huge housing developments like the proposed 3 Kings quarry site could progress without any community input.
- Other processes would severely curtail rights of appeal, either limiting them to appeals on legal errors, or entirely excluding any judicial oversight by the Courts.