Environment Minister Nick Smith announced a programme of stronger national direction & guidance on key environmental issues at the Environmental Defence Society’s conference in Auckland yesterday.
Included in the Ministry for the Environment’s priority list, A way forward for national direction, is a requirement for councils “to provide sufficient capacity for urban development including housing” by next year.
It’s an extraordinary demand given that local councils have no sway over immigration policy, for example, but is a one-liner in a 2-page policy update.
Dr Smith said: “A key problem with the Resource Management Act is that there has been too little central government direction on major issues. We are stepping up our programme of national policy statements, national environmental standards & national guidance to get better environmental results at less cost.”
Proposed national policy statements are being considered for urban development, aquaculture, biodiversity & natural hazards. New national environmental standards are being proposed for telecommunications facilities, plantation forestry, pest control, air quality & contaminated soils.
“There is a huge amount of work ahead with each of these initiatives. The purpose in outlining this programme is to start the process of consultation with key sector groups on how we can use these tools to make our system of resource management work better.
“New Zealand is too small a country to have different, complex rules across our 78 councils. We can get better environmental outcomes in areas like water quality & pest control, as well as better economic results in areas such as housing & telecommunications, through stronger & clearer policies & standards.”
Dr Smith also released the Ministries for the Environment & Primary Industries’ new guide on implementing the national policy statement for freshwater management.
Attribution: Ministerial release, ministry website.