Launch in new window

Clementine Valentine - Gatekeeper

You are here

‘War against nature’ – Greenpeace criticises ‘radically anti-environment’ government policy

28 February, 2024

Interview by Caeden Tipler, adapted by Sofia Roger Williams

Greenpeace Executive Director, Russel Norman, says the coalition government’s agenda for the environment is a wide-scale attack on any kind of protection.

On 31 January, Greenpeace received a letter from the minister responsible for Resource Management Act (RMA) reform, Chris Bishop, outlining the government’s intentions to fast-track repealing and replacing environmental protections in Aotearoa. 

The letter detailed three phases of the government’s agenda for the environment. 

The first phase involved repealing the Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the Spatial Planning Act 2023, which was done at the end of last year.

The second phase is introducing permanent fast-track consenting processes for locally, regionally, and nationally significant infrastructure and developments.

The third phase is replacing the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to prioritise property rights.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Russel Norman, told 95bFM’s The Wire the government is starting a “war against nature”.

“The previous government was pretty tardy in terms of the protections it introduced, but at least, if rather timidly, it was heading in the right direction.” 

Norman says there is a hierarchy of priorities councils must consider when issuing resource consents, such as freshwater-related consents, and that commercial interests should be the last factor considered.

“The first thing you’ve got to consider is the health of the water bodies themselves… the second thing is the health of people… the third priority is commercial interests.”

According to Norman, existing laws are already “pretty weak” and calls the decision to overturn them "extremely worrying".

He also criticised the government’s plans to expand seabed mining, condone bottom trawling, manage agriculture, and reintroduce oil and gas exploration.

Greenpeace released Bishop’s letter the day after receiving it. 

“People need to know how radically anti-environment the new government is.” 

Norman believes there will be enormous resistance from the public once people realise what is at stake. 

“The climate movement, like all movements, goes through its ups and downs… but I expect with a radical anti-environment government like this people will see the need to get active again.”

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air