“The Government has bizarrely announced a flood insurance scheme as part of today’s climate adaptation plan. Instead of making it easier for communities to adapt to natural hazards like climate change and changing geology, they are reducing incentives for people to invest in flood protection and adaptation.

“Communities need to decide for themselves how they adapt to climate change, in order to do that we need to scrap the Resource Management Act (RMA) and replace it with a fit-for-purpose set of environmental and urban development laws.

“James Shaw acknowledged the RMA is the biggest barrier standing in the way of progress, but his Government isn’t fixing it.

“The Government’s reforms to the RMA repeat many of the mistakes of the past. They are not clear about who has the right to do what on their land and who has the right to object. That means projects will still be held up by years of hearings, appeals, consultants’ reports, and iwi consultations.

“Countries like the Netherlands have successfully dealt with sea level rise for hundreds of years, building infrastructure that allows their cities to grow and business to flourish. New Zealand needs to follow their lead.

“The town of Matatā in the Bay of Plenty is an example of why we need to simplify this process and provide communities with the power to protect themselves from changing geology. Some residents have been forced into a situation of essentially becoming squatters in their own homes due to a managed retreat caused by concerns of flooding from the nearby Awatarariki Stream.

“We don’t want this situation to play out across New Zealand. There needs to be a focus on what practical measures communities can take to protect and maintain vital infrastructure, which means making it easier for people to develop.

“Fundamental changes to our planning rules are long overdue. The 900-page RMA is the single biggest obstacle to building the infrastructure for a better New Zealand.

“ACT’s replacement for the RMA would make it much easier to get building. We would:

  • Restrict the right to object to neighbours who are directly affected by the project
  • Allow neighbourhoods to vote to exempt themselves from some planning rules
  • Create a new Planning Tribunal to determine compensation for affected neighbours who hold out from negotiations to loosen planning rules
  • Reduce the need for consents when infrastructure projects use a Code of Practice to manage environmental effects, saving billions of dollars and reducing years of delay.

“This would allow Kiwi communities to develop and plan to combat natural hazards like climate change they might face in coming years.”

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Simon Court