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ECO's hard work threatened by Govt's RMA review

5 August 2004

ECO's hard work threatened by Govt's RMA review

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today congratulated ECO on the launch of their RMA community resource website but hopes the Government is not about to make all their hard work redundant.

ECO, New Zealand's coordinating group for environment and conservation organisations, today launched www.rmalink.org.nz as an information and networking tool for community groups responding to resource consents. David Benson-Pope, the Minister fronting the Government's current RMA review, was in attendance but, when asked, did not provide any substantive reassurance that the Act would not be gutted under his watch.

"This great new resource has been funded by the RMA Education and Advisory Fund that was set up as a result of Budget initiative negotiations between the Greens and the Government back in 2000," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Environment Spokesperson.

"The efforts of ECO staff and supporters, far beyond what that funding provided for, has ensured that this website is really top notch. It provides community groups with the opportunity to develop a good understanding of the relevant law and processes, which will save everyone involved in resource consent applications a lot of time and money.

"At this morning's launch ECO made it clear that while the set-up funding for RMAlink was much appreciated, they were dependent on donations and volunteer labour to maintain and update it. I call on the Minister to back up his support for this initiative by providing ongoing funding to support the efforts of ECO's volunteers.

"Business' long-running spin campaign to smear the RMA and its democratic and environmental purpose has no basis in fact. We urge the Government not to get into a bidding war with National but instead address the real RMA issues.

"The Greens would support a review if it was centred on how the RMA is being implemented, which we acknowledge needs attention. Like business, we believe there is a need for greater certainty about environmental standards. Unlike business, we believe New Zealand needs to do much better at environmental protection. The absence of certainty and better safeguards is not the Act's fault, it is due to successive governments taking too long to develop the National Environment Standards and National Policy Statements that would provide the guidance that local bodies need," said Ms Fitzsimons.

ENDS

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