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Little, Not Large, Suffers Most RMA Pain

31 March 2004

Little, Not Large, Suffers Most RMA Pain

A ministerial review of the Resource Management Act (RMA) must recognise the huge hassles it causes daily for small and medium-sized businesses, not just large projects, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

The government reportedly said yesterday that Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope would review the RMA. However there was no formal statement to this effect by the government, which raises doubts about the seriousness of the review.

"We look forward to seeing the terms of reference for the review, as there are obvious concerns over the review's scope."

Mr Pedersen noted that Mr Benson-Pope had only been in Cabinet for a few weeks and already he has the enormous job of reviewing the RMA.

"His letter of appointment to Cabinet said nothing about a review, only that he would oversee selected projects intended for ongoing improvements of the RMA.

"We have been here before. Former Environment Minister Simon Upton proposed a review in 1998. Submitters were mucked around for five years by Mr Upton's think pieces and the next government's discussion documents. Then the government delivered a damp squib, hugely disappointing farmers and other small and medium-sized businesses."

Mr Pedersen said that the cost of complying with the RMA can sometimes be more expensive than the project itself. As such farmers will engage in any serious attempt to review the RMA.

"Farmers will support a full review because the RMA is stopping small projects which could significantly improve productivity. It is holding back innovation and investment needed to raise all New Zealanders' living standards," said Mr Pedersen. "It is a flawed piece of legislation that must be changed," he said.

"Mr Benson-Pope proposes to shorten the process for big projects. This is not good enough. What about farmers who have been waiting three years to get councils to respond to their water consent renewal proposal?" Mr Pedersen said.


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