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National: Community groups to pay fees under RMA

21 October 2008 Media Statement

National: Community groups to pay fees under RMA

National's Nick Smith has confirmed the party intends to allow courts to force community groups and individuals to pay in order to appeal decisions around developments in their neighbourhoods and regions, Labour's environment spokesman Trevor Mallard said today.

"Nick Smith confirmed during an environment debate on National Radio's Nine To Noon yesterday that his party intends to reintroduce a provision for "security for cost" where objectors – like community groups and individual people could be forced to pay to take appeals," Trevor Mallard said.

"Labour removed this provision in the Resource Management Act in 2003 as we believe the Act already allowed courts to consider whether appeals were vexatious without having to threaten would-be objectors with significant costs. As National looks to winding back the clock, Labour believes in protecting the public's right to have a say in developments in their backyard.

"This proposed move by National would act as a major deterrent for community groups and individuals wishing to get involved in the RMA process when applications come in from developers.

"It means that National's special interest developer mates who have the money, can happily gallop through the consenting process while people who oppose it, or want their voice heard will be frightened off by the prospect of having to pay costs.

"National also intends to fast track big infrastructure projects by a supposed streamlining of the RMA. Nick Smith should come clean on how the public will be consulted.

"National also intends to create a new Wellington bureaucracy which would be charged with making decisions on developments in the regions – taking this responsibility off local councils. This would be another backward step and again remove the ability of local experts and people most affected by the proposed development – to have any substantial input in the process – as is the case under Labour.

"Labour has amended the RMA to reduce delays and costs and we are supporting local government and RMA practitioners to develop best practices and improve RMA implementation," Trevor Mallard said.

ends

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