Environment Being Given Bad Name
The extra judge and funding for the Environment Court is welcome, and a relief, but insufficient to clear the backlog of resource management cases, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.
"Protecting the environment is getting a bad name," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.
"The administration system we use to manage environmental issues is causing this. It's failing us because of its huge delays.
"Business welcomes Government's attention to the bottlenecks in the system, but one more judge and $2.1 million extra won't alleviate the back log of 3000 cases fast enough.
"Each judge on average now has over 400 existing cases to deal with, along with their new cases - the jam was plainly let go for far too long.
"Environment Minister Marian Hobbs' comments don't inspire confidence when she says there's "a pressing need to resolve appeals that've been outstanding for two years or more." As far as we're concerned the need is extremely urgent to resolve appeals before they're six months old.
"The Minister must update her information on the economic and environmental damage the delays are causing. It's not just the environment, "environmentalists and developers" that are detrimentally affected.
"The delays to completing the Auckland motorway network, for example, are mostly on resource management grounds and wasting millions of dollars a year in energy while fouling Auckland's atmosphere.
"The new funding is an excellent start but it needs to be doubled, and we need at least two more judges on the job."