The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says the Government's resource management reforms emphasised economic gain too heavily, at the expense of environmental values.

Commissioner Jan Wright said the Resource Management Act's (RMA) fundamental purpose was to make sure environmental effects were taken into consideration when decisions were made about the use of resources.

"It is not, and should not become, an economic development act."

The amendments to the act appeared to suggest the environment was the enemy of the economy, despite the fact that a large part of the economy was built on New Zealand's green credentials, she said.


"Employment is quite rightly an issue of great concern for the Government. But jobs are created and lost all the time for host of reasons. Just because jobs are not created in one area does not mean they will not be created in another area.

"Forgoing our environment for short-term growth may well curtail more sustainable jobs further down the line."

The proposed RMA changes, released in a discussion paper yesterday, aimed to streamline the planning process and reduce the costs and delays associated with consents under the current system.

The governing principles of the act, now 22-years-old, would also be updated to reflect "contemporary" New Zealand values.