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Problems With Environmental Law Remain Unfixed

9 May 2001

“After two years of extensive review, the Resource Management Amendment Bill fails to deliver what it promised”, says Chapman Tripp environmental lawyer John Hassan.

Mr Hassan responded to the reporting back to Parliament of the Bill today. “Anyone seeking faster and more cost effective processes under the Resource Management Act will be disappointed,” he said.

“A decade after becoming law, well known problems with the RMA which discourage development and add unnecessary cost are still not fixed”, he said.

“When the Amendment Bill was introduced in 1999, it set out to address aspects of the previous Act that were frustrating responsible development. It contained sensible measures aimed at reducing uncertainty and compliance costs, while still protecting the environment and rights of public participation.”

“By rejecting the concept of limited notification of resource consent applications the select committee has left open the opportunity for irresponsible and costly participation to remain unchecked.”

For example, under current law, failure to secure the approval of only one person affected by a development, however small, can force full notification and give anyone an ability to object at no cost to themselves. Applicants for consent must then bear the full cost of the hearing process that follows.

“This means a simple house extension could become the business of any person in New Zealand – whether or not they were affected. Proposals to streamline this process by allowing councils to limit notification and participation to those actually affected have been dropped.”

Any sort of development, whether domestic or commercial, will still risk being stymied by unnecessary cost and uncertainty. Private home owners, property developers and overseas investors alike are no further ahead.

For further information contact:

John Hassan, Partner, Chapman Tripp

Direct line: 04 498 4943
Mobile: 025 816 712
After hours: 04 478 2021
Main Office Number: 04 499 5999 or 09 357 9000

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