12 Sep 2013

Industry groups clash over RMA reforms

1:49 pm on 12 September 2013

Federated Farmers and Fish and Game are at logger-heads again, this time over the Government's latest reform proposals for the Resource Management Act.

The Government has proposed a range of law changes including new fast-tracking consenting rules.

It also wants to remove some key features of the original law, including the requirement to consider the intrinsic and amenity value of the environment in planning decisions.

The Maori Party and United Future have pulled their support, saying they are unhappy about the removal of environmental protections.

One of the architects of the Resource Management Act, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has also criticised the proposed changes in a report commissioned by Fish and Game. He says the Government is proposing to rewrite the principles at the very heart of the law.

Fish and Game director Bryce Johnson says the law itself is sound but needs to be used more consistently.

He says the problem is that previous governments have failed to implement the existing provisions.

Federated Farmers' environment and RMA spokesperson Ian Mackenzie supports the moves to streamline and simplify the RMA processes.

He argues the changes would actually strengthen environmental protection.

"The current act allows uncertainty in the process so that is creating huge cost," he says.

Mr Mackenzie says the act is encouraging people to apply for consents to develop areas they should not be.