The Government has today progressed its resource management reform agenda with a Bill to amend the Resource Management Act passing its first reading.
“The Bill is the first stage of our plan to fix the resource management system,” Environment Minister David Parker said.
“It will make marked improvements to the current RMA, particularly for freshwater, by addressing urgent issues pending the results of the comprehensive overhaul of the system that we launched earlier this year.
“The RMA is underperforming in its role of protecting our environment. Over 25 years of amendments have made the situation worse, and the RMA is now nearly twice its original length.
“Importantly, the Bill will support the delivery of the Government’s Essential Freshwater programme with a new process for regional plan changes to implement the forthcoming National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.
“This will assist regional councils to protect our rivers, lakes and aquifers from pollution, by getting new water quality standards in place years earlier than they otherwise would be,” David Parker said.
The Bill will also reverse some changes made by the previous government in 2017.
“We will restore public participation opportunities, including the ability of those undertaking subdivisions to appeal against unreasonable conditions imposed by councils,” David Parker said.
“The ineffectual and unused collaborative planning process will be dumped, as will draconian regulation-making powers that enabled the Minister for the Environment to override council rules.
“The ability to give councils helpful national direction will be retained.
“The Bill will also ensure those who pollute the environment are held to account for their actions by increasing infringement fees, increasing timeframes for councils to take prosecutions, and by giving the EPA enforcement powers,” David Parker said.