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Parliament given chance to fix Whangamata fiasco

Hon. Dr Nick Smith MP
National Party Environment Spokesman

15 June 2006

Parliament given chance to fix Whangamata fiasco

National’s Environment Spokesman, Nick Smith, today had his Member’s Bill to uphold the decision of the Environment Court on the Whangamata Marina and permanently remove the veto powers of the Minister of Conservation drawn from the ballot.

“This Bill gives Parliament the opportunity to fix an injustice against the 1000 members of the Whangamata Marina Society. This voluntary community group spent $1.3 million and 13 years in getting it’s resource consent, had it approved by local council, regional council, Department of Conservation and Environment Court, only to be vetoed by the Minister.

“It is wrong that the 28 days of detailed consideration by the Environment Court can be overturned by a Minister on a political whim. It is even more serious when it involves the sort of dubious dealings exposed by the emails of ex-Labour President Bob Harvey.

“The Whangamata decision has brought the whole resource consent process into disrepute. The only way to repair the damage is to completely remove the Ministerial veto.

“It has long been National Party policy to remove the Minister’s veto for restricted coastal activities under the RMA. It may have been justified in 1991 when there was no National Coastal Policy Statement and no regional policies, but now these are in place it just adds delays and costs to the process.

“The Minister of Conservation approves the National Coastal Policy Statement, approves every regional council’s Coastal Plan, appoints a member to all hearings on restricted coastal activities and has the right to submit and appeal any decision. This is ample power to protect the coastal environment without a veto as well.

“This bill both fixes the injustice over Whangamata as well as making a sensible improvement to the Resource Management Act,” says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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