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Government Ignores Lesson From Abbotsford Disaster

Twenty years ago this week, New Zealanders awoke to the news of the Abbotsford disaster. Environmental groups today warned a similar tragedy may happen if Government plans to amend the Resource Management Act (RMA) proceed.

Legislation amending the RMA was introduced into Parliament under urgency last month. In spite of warnings from the Earthquake Commission, the amendment bill contains provisions which will remove restrictions on the subdivision of hazard-prone land.

The Earthquake Commission’s submission on the proposed changes to the RMA states that the subdivision of more hazard-prone land will “increase the incidence of landslip damage to residential properties, to the real detriment of affected property owners”.

The Commission has cautioned the Government against any relaxation of the current regime.

Action for Community and the Environment (ACE), a coalition of environment, heritage and recreation groups fighting changes to the RMA, says the Government has chosen to ignore the Commission’s advice.

ACE spokesperson Martin Ward says the Government’s decision to proceed with the amendment shows “a reckless disregard for people, property and the environment”. Mr Ward says the amendment will remove an important protection in controlling landslip damage to residential property.

The Resource Management Amendment Bill has been referred to the Transport and Environment Select Committee. Public submissions close on the 1 October 1999.

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