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ACT's Common-sense Plan For Protecting Environment

ACT Environment and Conservation Spokesman Hon Ken Shirley today said ACT is the only Party that recognises that there are three important parts to environmentally sustainability. Speaking in Greymouth at the launch of ACT's Environment and Conservation Policy Ken Shirley said that while many people only focus on the ecological dimension, ACT recognises that the economic and social aspects are also essential.

"Forestry here on the West Coast is a good example of an ecologically sustainable activity that supports real jobs, wealth creation and social cohesion. The Labour Party clearly doesn't recognise or understand these realities.

"ACT supports the objectives of the Resource Management Act but we are very concerned that its interpretation and implementation has become one of the biggest obstacles to investment and job creation in this country. At present the Act is open to outrageous interpretations by local bodies and lobby groups that have seen New Zealanders facing bureaucratic nightmares. The Act needs a much narrower scope and a sharper focus.

"National has taken far too long to prepare amendments to the RMA and failed to pass them in the last Parliament. The amendments are not enough in themselves to remove the nonsense New Zealanders are facing under the Act. The scope of the Act should be confined to the sustainable management of the natural and physical environment and should not be a tool for social (including cultural) engineering.

"ACT New Zealand supports contestability in the processing of resource consents. We want section 32 of the RMA Act strengthened to make sure councils consider alternatives to prescriptive regulations and rules during the preparation of plans and policies.

"ACT supports the introduction of options to have applications heard by independent commissioners. Too often elected representatives have failed to act impartially when assessing proposals, particularly when councils are interested parties or are defending their own district plan.

"In conservation, government has failed to set meaningful objectives and DOC seems to work on the premise that 'more is always better' regardless of cost. ACT favours the concept of net conservation benefit when assessing conservation priorities.

"Government decisions on vast tracts of publicly owned land are too often arbitrary, political and unstable through time.

"ACT recognises the environmental and conservation commitment made by thousands of New Zealanders through many voluntary organisations. Groups such as the Fish and Game Councils have the strongest motives to make decisions on sustainable resource use, successfully managing the resource at minimum cost to the taxpayer. Their efforts should be recognised and encouraged," said Hon Ken Shirley.

ENDS

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