Committee’s Changes To Resource Management Bill
May 9, 2001 - Wellington
MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE
SELECT COMMITTEE’S CHANGES TO RESOURCE MANAGEMENT BILL WELCOME
The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society welcomes many of the changes to the Resource Management Act Bill made by a select committee. Provisions in the original Bill were widely opposed by environmental and community organisations.
“Many of the provisions most strongly opposed by environmental groups have been withdrawn” Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager, Eric Pyle said. “This is good news for public participation in environmental decision making. The Local Government and Environment Select Committee’s changes reverse attempts to reduce public involvement and will help improve environmental management.”
Allowing non-notification decisions to be appealed to the Environment Court, instead of judicial review actions in the High Court is particularly welcomed by Forest and Bird. “Using the judicial review process to challenge councils on consent notification is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” said Mr Pyle. “Few community organisations have the resources to undertake judicial review.”
“Some councils have failed to notify important resource consent applications. The public cannot comment on these applications or become involved in decision making. Only a small percentage of resource consents are notified. It is important that the public has the opportunity to comment on the important ones” said Mr Pyle.
Forest and Bird cautiously welcomes changes designed to make it easier to develop national standards and national policy statements.
“A simpler process should enable the Government to develop some national environmental standards and more National Policy Statements. Currently New Zealand has no national environmental standards – nearly all other developed countries have environmental standards in place. In ten years since the RMA was passed, only one national policy statement (on coastal issues) has been developed.”
“Clearly identifying that both regional and district councils have responsibility for biodiversity management is useful and should help implement the goals of the Biodiversity Strategy. Care and protection of indigenous ecosystems has tended to be overlooked as regional councils have focused on their traditional water and land management functions” Mr Pyle said.
However the real problem with the RMA is the variable performance of local government and this cannot be addressed by legislation alone. “Forest and Bird hopes that Central Government will more effectively assist local government to implement the RMA. The changes proposed in the RMA Amendment Bill will not by themselves fix the problems with the implementation of the RMA. The performance of local government needs to improve” said Mr Pyle.
Contact: Eric Pyle – phone 04 385 7374
work; 04 233 2993 home, 025 227 8420
Barry Weeber 04 385 73 74 or 04 389 1696