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RMA improvments a step closer

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South
Associate Minister for the Environment

3 August 2005 Media Statement

RMA improvments a step closer

Parliament will today debate the most significant changes to the Resource Management Act since 1991, says Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

The Resource Management and Electricity Legislation Amendment Bill (RMELA) contains a package of proposals to increase certainty, reduce delays and costs, and ensure consistency of processes within resource decision-making.

Mr Benson-Pope says the amendments do not affect the fundamental RMA principles of strong environmental protection, local decision-making and public participation.

"The amendments are evolutionary improvements, rather than revolutionary. They are about finding practical solutions to make the RMA work better," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says he believes that most New Zealanders can see that the RMA offers valuable environmental protection and was not the impediment to development often claimed.

"According to a 2004 Business New Zealand-KPMG Compliance Costs Survey, average total environment-related compliance costs have decreased by almost 40 per cent between 2003 and 2004 (from $12,930 in 2003 to $7,860 in 2004)," said Mr Benson-Pope. "KPMG attributed the reduced costs to 'improved implementation of the RMA by local authorities and increased resources for the Environment Court since 2001'."

Mr Benson-Pope says the three key areas to the government's improvement package are:

- Improved and quicker decision-making on resource consents

- Empowering councils and working with them on large or complex proposals

- More leadership, especially through national policy statements and standards

Mr Benson-Pope says the RMA is about striking the right balance between using our environment and protecting it for future generations.

"Labour is committed to a clean and healthy environment, and giving people a say in environmental decision-making. Protecting our environment is a strategic investment in New Zealand's future. The wide support this Bill has received reflects the acceptability of the changes it contains."

ENDS

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