13 Nov 2014

RMA regulation too complicated: OECD

6:28 pm on 13 November 2014

An international report criticising New Zealand's environmental rules proves proposed Resource Management Act changes are needed, the Government says.

Nick Smith.

Environment Minister Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

But opposition parties said the proposed changes went too far.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development identifies New Zealand as having one of the worst administrative burdens among its member nations when it comes to environmental regulation.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the very low ranking the report gave New Zealand's environmental rules proved that the RMA needed streamlining and to reduce the red tape.

Dr Smith said the problem was that the rules for thousands of activities differed across the country and the Government was going to fix it. He said the report showed there were too many contact points and applications required by businesses.

The Labour Party said it would support the Government if its plans to change the RMA would speed up the consenting process - without damaging the environment.

Environment spokesperson Phil Twyford said the current delays need to be tackled, particularly when it comes to housing - but that was not what the Government had in mind.

"What we won't support are National's determination to gut and weaken the environmental protections of the RMA."

However, Nick Smith said the Government was speeding up the RMA consenting process and had already reduced the number of consents required per year from 50,000 to 35,000.

The Green Party said the current delays and costs could be improved without changing the principles of the law.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs