RMA changes give Minister over-riding power

Did you hear this?  DOC (Department of Conservation) warns that the RMA changes may prevent them from doing their job  We borrow one of our members’ submission on the Resource Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (RLAB), to explain why:

The Bill, written in its current form, is not fit for purpose other than to allow ‘development’ and other activities to go through with little if any safeguards for the environment and sustainability, to give the Minister power above local authorities, and to take away the basic democratic rights of the public. More specifically, I object to the following clauses or parts of the RLAB:
1. Clauses 11 and 12 which take away councils’ responsibilities over hazardous substances.
2. Clause 27 which allows a rule or resource consents to be more lenient than a national environmental standard (NES).
3. The entire concept and process of “fast-track application” and all the clauses that pertain to this, including but not limited to clauses 121, 125 and 151.
4. The use of the term “less than minor” in describing the adverse effects of an activity when assessing consent applications, without clearly defining it.
5. Clause 105 which introduces 360D to the RMA to give over-riding power to the Minister.
6. Clause 120 which gives a hearing authority the power to strike out submissions.
7. Clause 125 which further restricts the scope of ‘limited notification’, to the extent that even the Department of Conservation has warned that they would not be able to perform their statutory duties.
8. Clause 188 which introduces to the EEZ-Continental Shelf Act mandatory boards of inquiry appointed by the Minister, presumably with power over-riding that of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Climate Justice Taranaki’s submission explains the above in detail and proposes new clauses that would strengthen rather than weaken the current legislation, notably including the consideration of climate change in consent applications.

Submission closes today 5pm 14 March 2016 on Parliament website.

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