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Parliament passes improvements to RMA

Parliament passes improvements to RMA

A significant package of improvements to the Resource Management Act has been passed by Parliament.

Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope welcomed the passing of the Resource Management Amendment Bill No.5 saying it introduces a series of timely, sensible and well thought out improvements to the working of the RMA.

In a process described by Local Government New Zealand as an "exemplary collaboration exercise" passed 61 votes to 53.

"These changes provides greater certainty and efficiency in the way the Act operates, while not sacrificing protection for the environment," said Mr Benson-Pope. "It will enable the RMA to work better.

"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 RMA is about striking the right balance between using our environment and protecting it for future generations.

"There are those who have signalled their intention to gut the Resource Management Act. They want to tilt the playing field so that development is to win-out over the legitimate concerns of communities. I think that is incredibly short sighted and will concern everyday New Zealanders who in major surveys consistently rate quality of life as very important to them."

Important features of the new Resource Management Amendment Act include: Training and accreditation of hearing panels Council staff training to support good decision-making Introduction of inquisitorial style hearings Expert evidence provided in advance Ability to remove vexatious applications Minister can require councils to complete plans Iwi consultation only at the plan stage Recognition of existing investment Minister has a menu of options for complex or cross-boundary consents New Zealand-wide consistency of environmental standards

"We can and do need economic growth, but in such a way that does not ride rough shod over communities and the clean air, water and soil guaranteed for generations to come," said Mr Benson-Pope.

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