Feedback sought on RMA and freshwater proposals

amyadamsEnvironment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are this week meeting around the country with councils, iwi, environment groups, businesses  – no doubt including meat companies and farmers – and the public to discuss proposed changes to the resource management system.

The Government has announced proposals aimed at strengthening the Resource Management Act (RMA) and improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

Proposed changes to the RMA are intended to make the system easier to use, increase certainty and predictability, attract investment, reduce unnecessary duplication and cost, whilst continuing to protect the environment.

The freshwater proposals outline a plan of action for the most comprehensive and positive reform of New Zealand’s freshwater management system for a generation. The proposals are consistent with and based on the Land and Water Forum’s recommended approach and gives effect to their core recommendations.

Meetings have already been held in Dunedin, Greymouth, Wellington and Gisborne and are being held in Rotorua this morning, with meetings in Invercargill, Whangarei, Tauranga, Hawke’s Bay, Queenstown, Taupō, Palmerston North, Whanganui, Hamilton, Christchurch, New Plymouth, Auckland and Nelson to follow over the next week or so.

“The meetings are a good opportunity for people to hear the reforms explained in more detail and to ask any questions they might have,” Adams says.

“I want to stress that these are proposals and it is important to know what each community thinks about the Government’s reforms. The feedback received will help shape the reforms.”

For information about the public meetings and hui, including dates, times and venues click here.

Lack of RMA clarity, discouraging investment

Speaking at the Bluegreens Forum in Levin earlier this week, Adams said that the lack of clarity around the RMA is “actively discouraging investment and innovation.

“Frustration with RMA processes is rife and time and time again, I hear they are failing to meet New Zealanders’ expectations. The costs and time of drawn out processes has real consequences. It is money that New Zealand families and businesses are missing out on,” she said.

Fundamentally the reforms are about providing greater confidence for businesses to grow and create jobs, greater certainty for communities to plan for their area’s needs and strong environmental outcomes as communities grow and change.

Reforms within the package are divided into six core objectives:

  • Greater national consistency and guidance
  • Fewer, better resource management plans
  • An effective and efficient consenting system
  • Better natural hazard managment
  • Effective and meaningful Māori participation; and
  • Working with councils to improve their RMA service performance.

“Taken as a package, these reforms are intended to deliver a clearer, better, faster and low cost resource management system for New Zealanders that meets our needs environmentally, socially and economically, now and into the future,” the Minister told the conference.

Freshwater: consistent systems planned

Turning to freshwater management,  “the most comprehensive and positive reform …  ever seen”, she noted that government is to start developing consistent systems and methods for measuring and accounting for lakes and discharges so all councils are working within a nationally-consistent framework and to help councils and resource users make good management decisions.

“There is no doubt that we need more accurate information about what is going into our waterways and what is being taken out,” Adams said.

Amongst other things, work is to start immediately on guidance for consistency in the way water entitlements are described in permits and will continue working jointly with sectors on good practice toolkits for land and water managers like farmers and councils, the Minister said.

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