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Brash out of touch on planning issues

Brash out of touch on planning issues

National Party leader Don Brash has again shown how out of touch he is with claims the Resource Management Act is holding up important roading projects, says Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says Dr Brash has been signalling for the last year that he wants to do away with community consultation in major projects so he can give free licence to developers. Today he again attacked the Resource Management Act this time saying it was a major impediment to new roads. He claimed that new roads were a decade away because of slow planning and consent processes.

Yet Transit New Zealand data shows how out of touch Dr Brash is with three recent Auckland roading projects worth nearly half-a-billion dollars having taken on average just over 19 months in the planning stage. They were: Greenhithe deviation (SH18 from Albany to the duplicate upper harbour crossing): Cost: $94m, RMA timeline: 24 months for the designation plus 12 months for the resource consents. Manuaku Extension (Linking SH20 to SH1 at Manukau City Centre): Cost: $174m RMA timeline: 18 months for the designation and resource consents. Central Motorway Junction (Spaghetti junction): Cost: $195m; RMA timeline: 4 months for an outline plan of works and resource consents with the existing designation.

"Mr Brash is out of touch with what has happened in New Zealand in the past few years," said Mr Benson-Pope. "He wants to shut local communities out of the very decisions that will affect the every day lives of those communities. That's poor decision-making by any standard and a recipe for disaster."

Mr Benson-Pope says the Government currently has a Bill before Parliament designed to improve the working of the Resource Management Act, which included mechanisms for stopping frivolous objections.

"New Zealanders value the environment and understand the need to balance the demands of the economy with people's expectations to live in and enjoy our spaces. That requires good planning processes that balance these competing demands.

"Dr Brash has shown that all the National Party really cares about is unfettered development but he will need to find a better excuse for letting this happen than the Resource Management Act," said Mr Benson-Pope.

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