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Ministerial veto destroys RMA credibility

Hon Nick Smith National Environment Spokesman

7 March 2006

Ministerial veto destroys RMA credibility

National's Environment spokesman, Nick Smith, says Chris Carter has made an absolute mockery of the resource consent process by canning the Whangamata Marina project after it was given the green light last October.

"In making this decision the Minister has over-ruled the Coromandel/Thames District Council, the Waikato Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and the Environment Court.

"It is constitutionally outrageous and has never happened in the 15 years of the RMA.

"Chris Carter says he cannot agree with the Environment Court on this matter, but he has not had access to the volume of material the court has. He cannot be judge, jury and executioner.

"It is an outrageous abuse of power and process for the Minister to shut the project down at the last hurdle - after this community group has spent more than 10 years and more than $1 million on it.

"Chris Carter's actions today highlight the desperate need for substantive reform of the Resource Management Act.

"National has long argued that the Minister of Conservation should not be able to overturn decisions of the Environment Court. We will introduce amendments to the Resource Management Act to ensure this sort of injustice is not repeated.

"This decision is very damaging and makes a joke of Labour's claims that it wants to improve certainty in the RMA process.

"The message it sends to community groups and investors wanting to improve facilities around New Zealand's coast is - don't bother, the bureaucracy will beat you," says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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