13 May 2016

RMA changes will harm water quality, Palmer says

3:16 pm on 13 May 2016

The architect of the Resource Management Act has told MPs the government's proposed changes to it will inevitably harm water quality.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer

Sir Geoffrey Palmer Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the legal advisor to the Fish and Game Council, created the RMA legislation 25 years ago, stipulating environmental bottom lines in development projects.

The government said its proposed amendments to the act would support job growth, more affordable housing and better environmental management.

But Sir Geoffrey told the Local Government and Environment select committee the changes would make the act more bureaucratic and more expensive.

He said that experts believed the changes would lead to undemocratic decisions and prioritise development over the environment.

"The whole act is going to become more complicated, more cumbersome, more bureaucratic and it is going to increase costs and it will generate disputes, undoubtedly, it may be better to abandon it."