Up until this week decision-makers could not decline large climate-polluting projects such as coal mines and fossil fuel power plants even though they could have huge climate-polluting impacts. Now that ridiculous loophole has been closed. Changes just made to the RMA now means consents for large projects can be declined if they have significant climate change impacts that are inconsistent with the Zero Carbon Act.
These amendments allow district and regional councils to consider greenhouse gas emissions in their plan-making and consenting once national direction on climate change mitigation is promulgated.
A pleasant surprise when I was elected to Waikato Regional Council was that staff referred draft WRC submissions on Bills to councillors for comment. When I received the WRC draft submission on the reform of the RMA late last year, I notice that it did not include a request that the RMA and the proposed Zero Carbon Act be aligned. I therefore ask that WRC’s submission be amended to include this provision. I pointed out how many other credible organisations were also making the same call. I was agreeably surprised that WRC staff accepted my suggested changes and this formed part of the final submission made to central government.
It was only a small part in the process, but I’m sure that having a Regional Council adding its weight to these calls was helpful.
It was also particularly pleasing because the late Jeanette Fitzsimons had a member’s bill on this and campaigned long and hard, right up until last year.