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RMA expected to pass first reading today

15 December, 2004

Package of improvements to RMA expected to pass first reading today

A package of improvements to key problem areas identified in the working of the Resource Management Act (RMA) is expected to pass its first reading in Parliament today, says Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says the new Bill, known as the Resource Management and Electricity Legislation Amendment Bill, sets out a series of practical solutions identified after talking with business, local government, environmental organisations and the broader community over the past year-and-a-half.

"The RMA is not fatally flawed," said Mr Benson-Pope. "It remains an important environmental safeguard. But we've got a number of timely, sensible and well thought out solutions to make it work better for all New Zealanders.

"This Bill is about providing greater certainty and efficiency in the way the RMA operates, while not sacrificing protection for our environment.

"We need to get the balance right so that New Zealanders get the environmental protection they expect and deserve, as well as certainty about the process. There is a lot we can do to improve the quality of decision-making, and further reduce delays and uncertainty about costs."

Key features of the new Bill include: providing mechanisms to manage competing national benefits and local interests, with provision of a menu of tools for government to support local decision-making strengthening the expression of national interest by reinforcing the role of national policy statements and national environmental standards improving local policy and plan-making, streamlining the plan-making processes to reduce compliance costs and end duplication of processes giving local authorities and the Environment Court extra powers to run efficient inquisitorial hearings the Government providing information to councils on the iwi authorities in each area or rohe.

In terms of resource consents, iwi will have the same opportunities to participate as any other person affected by an activity amending the Electricity Act 1992 to create a process to consider high voltage electricity works in the road corridor.

“The legislative changes are just one part of a package of measures reflecting a stronger leadership role for central government in implementing and supporting the Resource Management Act,” said David Benson-Pope.

ENDS

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