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RMA Review Shows Promise But Time Will Tell

RMA Review Shows Promise But Time Will Tell

The forest and wood processing industries today welcomed the announcement of proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) tabled by the Government.

“The Government appears to have heard our concerns about the RMA” said New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) President Peter Berg.

“Time will tell whether they have really listened and are prepared to ensure that the changes they are proposing will make a difference to the way the RMA is implemented,” said Mr Berg.

New Zealand Forest Industries Council (NZFIC) Chairman Lees Seymour said that the industry had participated actively in the consultation process around the RMA review.

“The Government has picked up on a number of our proposals in our submission including the need for more national standards, less discretion and more accountability and training for local authorities, greater clarity about who needs to be consulted and issues around the cost and time for RMA applications. But other issues, including increasing the weight given to economic considerations in the assessment of applications, do not appear to have been taken up”.

Mr Seymour said the industry was not opposed to robust and properly focused environmental protection or to the right for stakeholders to be consulted about developments which directly affect them.

“As we pointed out in our submission, it is a question of balance. Sustainable development is about more than just environmental protection. It needs to incorporate economic and social issues, particularly related to job creation and regional economic growth.”

Mr Berg also welcomed the Government’s proposals to facilitate projects in the national interest but warned that these projects should not just be those large scale infrastructural projects of interest to the Government.

“It is in the national interest to add value to the national forest resource and that means establishing new wood processing operations which require RMA consents. The track record speaks for itself – despite the Government’s rhetoric, there have been no new significant operations established in the last two years. The RMA is not the only reason but it is a contributing factor. This is the situation that the outcome of the current review needs to address” concluded Mr Berg.
Note: The industry’s submission to the RMA review can be found at www.nzfic.org.nz/submissions .

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