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Purpose of RMA being lost

Purpose of RMA being lost

The opposition parties are to be commended for taking the time to understand why business and city and district planners are frustrated by government's failure to make significant changes to the Resource Management Act says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

The association says the Resource Management Amendment Bill No.2 currently before Parliament does nothing of consequence to address business concerns with the Resource Management Act 1991.

"We urge Government to seek a Parliamentary majority for further changes to the RMA to ensure sustainable management and development is not stifled," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"Our concerns with the present Bill are twofold:

1) It will erode business confidence by adding costs, delay and uncertainty.

2) It has excluded most of the proposals advocated by business and planners to create a more efficient resource consent process, without compromising legitimate public consultation or environmental outcomes.

"For example, the new definition of 'historic heritage' is symptomatic of the wrongs in the RMA in that it:

* will require expensive litigation to determine the meaning of abstract concepts

* creates terms like 'cultural landscape' that are incapable of precise definition and will always be open to subjective meanings.

* Will further encourage the Act's use for 'strategic' objectives aimed at increasing commercial leverage.

"Neither the Amendment Bill nor the Ministerial call-in provisions address the 'two-hearings' problem. (That is, once an application is heard before a council and if subject to an appeal, reheard in its entirety before the Court of Appeal.)

"Instead we need well-trained independent commissioners to be able to hear applications and for appeals to be more focussed on reviewing just the decision in question. We also need provision for significant applications to be directly referred to the Environment Court.

"The 'limited notification' proposal in the Bill has been a much trumpeted improvement to the Bill but even that is a con job because it will achieve little more than the RMA already allows for.

"We need more streamlining of the RMA by fixing the 'two hearings' issue and extending the 'limited notification' provision.

"The 'historic heritage' provisions are so wide they are open to manipulation.

"We urge Government to consider further amendments to provide faster, less expensive RMA processes. We must have a faster track for resource consents of national importance.

"The status quo will not alleviate business concerns nor allow sensible consent solutions for roading, or to ease the critical electricity situation.

"The purpose of the RMA is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources but now much more than this is being required of it. Being lost through it is the need to recognise the importance of sustainable development and to meet the needs of people's standards of living."

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