Comment: RMA overhaul denied the public, stakeholders, councils, and resource users any opportunity to have a say on the matter, writes Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.
Inserting a range of matters including climate change provisions in Resource Management Act amendments at the 11th-hour is a slap in the face for proper consultation and due process.
Despite the government previously saying the amendment Bill would stick to narrowly focused issues ahead of the pending and well-signalled overhaul of the RMA, the government has slipped in the climate change provisions after the final Select Committee stage.
This denied the public, stakeholders, councils, and resource users any opportunity to have a say on the matter. There was no opportunity to submit, provide hearing evidence, or consider any cost-benefit or regulatory impact analysis.
The new requirements that climate change matters be taken into account when considering resource consents represent an extremely significant change, and one that is well outside the scope of the Bill as proposed. These changes have also caused further uncertainty in the primary sector at a time when the nation can ill-afford it.
We've talked about it up one wall … and down the other
Not only that, we have written to the Minister for the Environment David Parker in two joint letters seeking clarity both as to how the changes will impact the requirements of regional councils and how it will impact activities critical for farming in New Zealand.
Without the careful scrutiny that would ordinarily have applied, our organisations have no clear understanding on what these legislative changes will mean for the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of farmers and others in the primary sector we represent.
And while we are actively engaging in the partnership process that underpins He Waka Eke Noa: The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership we have concerns that these changes to the RMA will undermine the partnership's ability to operate effectively.
Something of a double standard also seems to have been applied.
When we suggested clauses be included in the ETS Reform Bill to enable the government to limit carbon offsetting from exotic forestry, the industry was told changes were impossible because of a need for due process, yet it is very hard to see process in the way these changes have been made to the RMA amendments.