- Geoffrey Palmer, former prime minister and one of the Resource Management Act architects, has publicly attacked the proposed changes. He claims that the changes would: "significantly and severely weaken the ability of the RMA to protect the natural environment and its recreational enjoyment for all New Zealanders." and that, "Core environmental matters that currently have the status of 'matters of national importance' will be downgraded to mere matters."
- Dr Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, voiced concern that the proposed changes would unbalance the RMA: "The RMA's fundamental purpose is to make sure that the environmental effects are taken into consideration when decisions are being made about using our resources. It is not, and should not become, an economic development act!"
- It will remove 22 years of case law, that assists in clarifying current decision making, and will probably slow the consent process until new case law is established.
- The New Zealand Planning Institute is concerned that the changes to the bill will fail to serve the objectives of the bill and will not streamline the consents process as intended, or improve local decision making.
- There will be significant costs in identifying and documenting all "significant" trees and environmental features for councils so that they may be protected from future developments. Unless trees and features are identified then, according to the proposed changes, they will have no value.
- The Environmental Defense Society is concerned that the proposals will give "radical" powers to government ministers who will be able to overrule local decisions without consultation with the affected communities.
- The Government claims that the RMA limits economic development unreasonably and yet out of 185 countries we are ranked 3rd for the ease of doing business and 6th for gaining permits. According to official information (Page 15) from the Department of Building and Housing a non notified consent decision should be made within 20 days and a notified one would take around four months. The current RMA process is generally working efficiently.
- A legal view of the proposed changes identifies that the ability to consider all aspects of a consent application will be limited: Notified parties can only comment on aspects that they were notified for (no wider concerns); appeal rights are limited to the High Court on aspects of law and there will be little ability to look at all aspects of the application.
- Economic criteria will be given more weight than environmental considerations.
- The changes are part of a Government agenda to reduce environmental considerations in support of potentially damaging industries.
These are direct quotes from the PM regarding the proposed mining of the Denniston Plateau:
"The Denniston Plateau has got a lot of potential from a mining perspective and is relatively low in conservation, ah, land, in parts. I mean there are parts that are important and, ah, parts that are pretty low."
"Look the bottom line is that there is well over a thousand jobs there, there is a lot of coal that can be taken out...given, you know, the remoteness of it and all those things, its a good thing."
"Eer...I do (believe in global warming), ahh, but I'm prepared to except, actually Oxford, doesn't Oxford University that came out this week and said that its slowing or cooling slightly...(indecipherable mumble)."
"But the bottom line is there is an abundance of coal around the world, so whether they take it out of Denniston or they take it out of some mine in China, they're going to take it out of the ground and actually the aim here is to get more efficiency when your doing these things, not to stop economic activity."