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National would deny community RMA involvement

National would deny community RMA involvement

Don Brash has revealed the National Party's plan to shut communities out of decision-making under the Resource Management Act, Acting Environment Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

During question time in Parliament today, Don Brash set out National’s prescription for the Resource Management Act 1991, which involves referring consent applications directly to the Environment Court and severely limiting who can have a say on those applications.

"The Resource Management Act currently allows local people affected by consent applications to have a say," Mr Benson-Pope said. "This is fair, and results in better environmental outcomes because local people can put forward local solutions.

"National's plan would see local communities by-passed with little ability for them to help solve the environmental problems that affect them.

"This takes us back to the days of the National Development Act and the Clyde Dam legislation, where locals are shut-out and projects half built before discovering they are not economic or environmentally sound.

"Under National's proposal, Project Aqua would have been fast-tracked to building stage without the local community debating whether it should go ahead or not, and without a proper assessment of its environmental effects.

"This is unacceptable for a project planning to take 70% of the water out of New Zealand's fourth largest river. The Waitaki community had to have its say, and there had to be a proper assessment of environmental effects.

"My appointment on February 26 as Minister with responsibilities related to the RMA is to see where improvements can be made. But in doing so, we will not sacrifice public participation and good environmental outcomes. Labour has always aimed to ensure there is a fair balance in the Resource Management Act between people's right to have a say and efficient processes."

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