Fish & Game opposes 'attack' on RMA

  • 11/09/2012

Dry river 2Fish & Game NZ has joined leading environmental organisations warning the Government about the perils of re-writing the RMA.

Environmental Defence Society, Ecologic, WWF, Forest & Bird, Greenpeace and Fish & Game last week sent an open letter to Environment Minister Amy Adams outlining their concerns about a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) report on proposed changes to the Act.

“Fish & Game has previously stated that proposed changes to the RMA would be a disaster for both the environment and New Zealand’s ‘100% Pure, clean green’ economic advantage – that view holds more firmly than ever,” says chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“The recommendations would substantially lower environmental standards throughout the country – and that goes completely against the core purpose of this legislation.”

Removing the terms ‘protect’, ‘preserve’, ‘maintain’ and ‘enhance’ from the RMA “smacks of political opportunism to fit a perceived Government economic growth agenda”, says Mr Johnson.

“It’s an out-and-out attack on the environment, paving the way for rampant and unsustainable development.”

A key example is the proposal to scrap clause 7(h) which specifically references ‘protection of the habitat of trout and salmon’ – this would remove what water resource developers see as a road block to their plans to privately profit from the public water resource, Mr Johnson points out.

“Because trout and salmon have the highest water quality and flow requirements, the clause relating to the protection of their habitat benefits all in-stream values – introduced and indigenous species alike – essentially offering some safeguard for the health of our waterways.”

The RMA isn’t broken and doesn’t need fixing, adds Mr Johnson: “What it needs is consistent and forthright implementation by those responsible for its administration.

“The recent Horizons One Plan decision of the Environment Court, which establishes limits around pollution and injects some real environmental sustainability into agriculture, shows the current system is working for the environment, not against it as the TAG proposals would .”

Fish & Game NZ is also concerned at the TAGs recommendation to axe section 7(c) of the RMA, which requires the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values.

“This clause is central to the protection of outdoor recreation and any attempt to remove it will be of grave concern to many thousands of New Zealanders.”

A copy of the open letter to the Minister for the Environment can be viewed here.
A copy of the joint press statement can be viewed here.

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