“Labour is wasting Kiwis’ time and taxes urgently trying to pass RMA legislation that ACT will repeal as soon as the Government changes,” says ACT’s Environment spokesperson Simon Court.

Labour’s RMA re-tread commits all the same mistakes as the old system and will be scrapped by the next Government. Thankfully, ACT has proposed a comprehensive replacement based on property rights that allows Kiwis to develop more and get things done.

“There is widespread agreement that Labour’s plan needs to go, the important part will be replacing it with something better. After all, even Labour campaigned on replacing the RMA, they just screwed up the alternative.

“The Spatial Planning Bill, which is going through Parliament right now, adds more divisive co-governance to the planning system and lets Regional Planning Committees allow unelected officials to colour in maps showing where you can and can’t build. What happened to the system where communities get to vote out councils that ignore them? Under this approach its central planning by co-governed committee and goodbye to property rights.

“ACT has developed a plan that creates a property rights based system where New Zealanders are free to make the best possible use of their property and our shared environment to live their best lives.

“ACT’s solutions for building New Zealand and conserving nature amount to a once in a generation opportunity to cut through restrictive planning rules, allow for sensible environmental regulation, and empower development of new infrastructure. It is the complete opposite of the Government’s legislation.

ACT’s plan includes:

  • A shift in principle on Resource Management to a property rights basis, where people can do anything that does not harm others’ enjoyment of property. It dramatically reduces the range of people who have an interest in someone else’s use of their own property.
  • A new Environmental Protection Act (EPA) that will allow people to do what they like on their land unless specifically prohibited under the Act. Discharges to common property will be forbidden unless specifically allowed under the Act. Such discharges will be managed under one of two regimes; freshwater, or other discharges, noting the special importance of freshwater.
  • The freshwater regime will involve local councils deciding on acceptable environmental limits in consultation with their community. This decision making should be based on clearly demarcated, scientifically measurable parameters. Within these measures, property owners will be able to trade their permits. This approach is a far more localised and flexible way of achieving cleaner freshwater than the current command and control approach.
  • Non-freshwater pollution will be managed by two regimes, one for high risk activities, and another for leakage. A regime of clean-up bonds being required for high risk activities, so that the taxpayer is not left carrying the can for clean-up costs. Leakage, such as ground water pollution, will be managed using processes based on the tort of nuisance.
  • Urban development would be managed under a separate Urban Development Act (UDA). The UDA would set out three processes for streets or neighbourhoods to negotiate up their zoning either by consensus, bilaterally, or unilaterally. This introduces more control for property owners, while allowing cities to organically intensify.

“ACT has developed an alternative that addresses these concerns and creates a property rights based system where New Zealanders are free to make the best possible use of their property and our shared environment to live their best lives.

“Importantly, it will actually make houses easier to build and roads easier to fix.

“If we want to get cheaper goods to market and more houses built for the next generation, we need to reduce government interference and allow Kiwis to maintain property rights. That is the only way we will realise our economic potential.”

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