12 Sep 2013

Key prepared for RMA compromise

10:30 am on 12 September 2013

Prime Minister John Key says there may be room for compromise to get support for the Government's proposed Resource Management Act changes.

The Maori Party and United Future have pulled their support, saying they are unhappy about the removal of environmental protections.

The Government wants to remove some key features of the original law, including the stipulation that the intrinsic and amenity value of the environment be considered in planning decisions.

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ

It is also proposing new fast-tracking consenting rules and making councils provide at least 10 years of urban land supply to cope with projected population growth.

Mr Key says the legislation has not been drafted yet but it is pretty clear further talks will have to be held to get support.

He says the Government will try to get the changes passed before the next election, but if it cannot it will campaign on them.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the party is not prepared to accept that economic development is given priority over environmental protection.

She told Morning Report while people want the process made faster, she cannot allow the central principals of the existing act to be deleted.

"So we're talking the ethics of stewardship, the amenity values, the quality of the environment, the intrinsic value of the eco-systems, the finite characteristics of natural and physical resources," she said.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage says the Government is proposing to turn the law away from its original intent.

"When the act was introduced it was hailed internationally because it has this concept of sustainable management, allowing development but ensuring that environmental protection was maintained," she says.

Labour Party environment spokesperson Maryan Street says there is a broad basis of support for streamlining the processes where that is appropriate, as long as it does not compromise environmental protections.

She says the Government will have to go back to the drawing board and rethink its attitude towards environmental protections.

Fish and Game director Bryce Johnson says there is no need to change the Resource Management Act - governments just need to use it better.

He says the law itself is sound and if it were used more consistently it would work better.