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Business Gets Good Deal From Resource Act

Allegations by ACT New Zealand President, Sir Roger Douglas, that the Resource Management Act is imposing unnecessary costs on business are at odds with the latest statistics released by the Ministry for the Environment.

Figures revealed in the Ministry’s annual survey show the majority of councils are subsidising the costs of obtaining a resource consent by more than 50%.

Claims that developers are being kept waiting for consents are also contradicted by the survey findings. Seventy-eight per cent of resource consents issued last year were processed on time. Only one per cent of applications were declined.

Action for Community and the Environment (ACE), a coalition of New Zealand’s leading environment, heritage and recreation groups, says the survey shows the RMA is generally working well for developers despite ACT’s claims to the contrary.

ACE spokesperson, Martin Ward, says "overall developers are getting a pretty good deal; a 99% certainty rate of having an application approved is pretty good odds".

Mr Ward says the survey also reveals most councils take a very lenient approach to enforcing consent conditions. "More than 12,500 breaches of resource consents were reported by local councils last year. Yet in only 2% of cases was only formal enforcement action taken," he says.

Mr Ward says the survey results conflict dramatically with the picture painted by ACT. "Clearly, the allegation that the RMA is holding up development is not supported by the evidence", he says.

Legislation was introduced into Parliament in July to drastically amend the RMA. The Resource Management Amendment Bill has been referred to the Transport and Environment Select Committee. Public submissions close on 1 October 1999.

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