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RMA Changes Will Increase Costs

“The Resource Management Amendment Bill changes will increase rather than decrease costs,” Quentin Davies, spokesperson for the Christchurch-Otautahi Agenda 21 Forum said in response to the Environment Minister’s announcement of the proposed changes to the RMA; “The changes seem to be more aimed at taking away chances for local communities to have an input rather than any genuine improvement the working of the Act.”

“Only wealthy developers will be able to afford contestable consent processing or be able to select independent commissioners as proposed in the Bill. This will mean that some people could buy the process which suits them most, but the Minister has called the ‘little person’ who is just trying to run a small business or build their own home will not have these advantages. The proposed amendments will not achieve the stated aims of the Minister.”

“Under these proposals, opponents of the landfill site in rural Canterbury could have to fight the proposal straight away in the Environment Court rather than initially at a council level. Many in the general public does not have the skills to deal with the Court’s procedure, and will need to be able to cope with cross-examination by lawyers and to obey the rules of evidence or otherwise pay a lawyer or planner to be represented. This will reduce public input.

“There appear to be no constructive proposals to increase the public involvement at an early stage of the planning or the resource consent process,” Mr Davies said. The Christchurch-Otautahi Agenda 21 Forum has consistently submitted to central Government that improving the early consultation processes will reduce costs in the short and long term. “The Avon Loop consultation process is a Christchurch example of how both development and community interests can work together to create win-win outcomes,” Mr Davies continued.

“The Bill seems to be geared to suit those with the money to buy the process they prefer, and slanted against the interests of the community, small businesses and the protection of the environment.” The majority of the 750 submissions were critical of the Minister taking this direction.

The Christchurch-Otautahi Agenda 21 Forum is an independent non-governmental organisation committed to sustainable development. It’s role is to promote the interests of communities and the environment.

ENDS

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