The Green Party says National’s plan to allow developers to bypass the Resource Management Act (RMA) risks another Bexley or Houston.
“The RMA is not perfect and needs reform. National’s previous ad hoc changes to the RMA have weakened our environmental law and reduced people’s right to have say about development in their communities. Its urban planning proposals are more of the same and another attack on the RMA,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage says.
The comments come on the back of Bill English’s statement that National will bring in new urban planning laws to bypass the RMA and speed up infrastructure projects like new motorways and housing.
“We need the RMA to protect communities against poorly planned developments that compromise resilience.
“The rules in the RMA that require developers to get a resource consent are there to ensure that subdivision and infrastructure projects are appropriately sited, are well planned to avoid or reduce their environmental and social impacts, and that the public has a voice in their own communities.
“The last thing we need is more haphazard subdivision and development built without thinking about issues such as natural hazards and effects on the environment. That happened with Christchurch’s Bexley subdivision, which ignored environmental and natural hazard issues. Bexley was built on former reclaimed land and wetland. The entire suburb had to be abandoned after extensive liquefaction and land damage as a result of the 2011 earthquakes.
“Experts are saying that the flooding in Houston in the United States has been made much worse because of aggressive property development and extensive hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt that cannot absorb rainfall and increase stormwater runoff.
“We need the RMA to promote good planning and sound development of compact, liveable cities, not be a charter for property developers of shoddy, poorly planned subdivisions and new motorways where the public is shut out from having a say.
“The Green Party wants coherent reform of the RMA. In government, it will establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into New Zealand’s environmental management and planning laws.
“The RMA was ground-breaking in its time but since then, more of our birds are closer to extinction, climate and water pollution have increased, and our cities are more clogged with cars. It’s time to do things differently,” said Ms Sage.