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RMA Amendment changes precious

RMA Amendment changes precious

The changes to the Resource Management Amendment Bill (No.2) sorted out yesterday between Labour and United Future are helpful but don't go nearly far enough, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"Deleting the terms 'spiritual', 'cultural landscapes' and 'ancestral landscapes' from the RMA Amendment Bill won't prevent New Zealand becoming a laughing stock for the world's legal fraternity," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"But we must be thankful these terms have been removed; our lawyers would never agree what they mean.

"Unfortunately for the businesses who foot the bill, the RMA Amendment Bill still retains plenty of other new terms for the courts to debate at huge expense.

"We'll have the Greens to thank for the jam in the Environment Court they will cause.

"The (lack of) definition in the Amendment is symptomatic of the problems with the RMA in that it:

* requires extensive litigation over the meaning of abstract concepts before any certainty can be achieved on what developments can or cannot proceed

* creates concepts (like 'historic heritage') that are incapable of precise legal definition and will always be argued subjectively on a case by case basis

* will encourage 'strategic' objections aimed at increasing commercial leverage.

"The whole section giving recognition to 'historic heritage' should have been deleted, not because it is unimportant but because the Amendment is delinquent in leaving it for the courts to decide what is included and what's excluded from the law's discretion.

"As far as expediting responsible development is concerned the RMA Amendment Bill preserves the status quo."

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