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Minister naïve on RMA transmission problems

7 July 2004

Dr Nick Smith MP National Environment Spokesman

Minister naïve on RMA transmission problems

The Government's claim that the Resource Management Act does not pose any problems for upgrading transmission lines is naïve and mistaken, says National's Environment spokesman, Nick Smith.

"Transpower says it is a problem, and local lines companies, like Network Tasman, say it is a problem. The Associate Environment Minister cannot keep claiming everything is okay.

"And he cannot defy recent public statements by Transpower:

'Transpower continues to hold concerns that the application of the Resource Management Act in practice will put at risk the company's plans to implement timely significant grid enhancement'. - Transpower Half Yearly Report, 31 Dec 2003

Transpower supports the principles and aims of the RMA but has for some years had concerns that the application of the RMA in practice could put at risk the company's investment plans and ultimately the economic health of the nation. - Transpower Briefing Note on the RMA

"The RMA, as it stands, requires six different consents for an upgrade of the transmission lines between Nelson and Christchurch, even though this involves only adding wires to the existing pylons," says Dr Smith. "This is because each council has a different resource management plan with different rules.

"There is no way such a simple project could justify using the ministerial 'call in' and Board of Inquiry process, and the alternative is to process six different consents through each of the councils involved. It highlights why we need national standards.

"This year, people at the top of the South Island are the victims of an uncertain power supply, but many other parts of the country will be vulnerable if transmission lines are not upgraded.

"The RMA in its present form makes these upgrades very difficult and a Minister who continues to ignore the problem poses a serious risk to the economy," says Dr Smith

ENDS

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