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Panel's Plans to Reduce RMA Public Participation

ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION ORGANISATIONS
PO BOX 11-057, WELLINGTON

Media Release

11 July 2001

Business Panel’s Plans to Reduce Public Participation Opposed

Recommendations by the Business Compliance Cost Panel to reduce the public’s right to have a say in resource management processes have met with strong opposition from environment groups.

The Panel’s report, released today, proposes restricting public notice of resource consent applications. It also recommends consent processing should be opened up to the private sector.

ECO spokesperson Cath Wallace says the Panel’s claim extra costs are being forced on business by the Resource Management Act’s public participation provisions is misleading.

“Only five per cent on resource consent applications are publicly notified. In the remaining 95% of cases, applications are simply decided by the local council without any public consultation. This contrasts with the situation before the RMA when figures provided by the Ministry for the Environment show over 40% of land use applications were notified before the RMA was introduced”.

Ms Wallace says these figures show that the public is notified far less often now than when the RMA was introduced 10 years ago.

Given the small proportion of applications that are now notified, Ms Wallace says calls to amend the RMA to limit the public’s input are unfounded and the government should reject them.

"ECO does welcome other suggestions made by the Panel aimed at improving practice." Wallace says the main problem for both business and environment groups alike is the poor administration of the RMA by some councils.

“The best way to make sure the RMA works for everyone is to put more resources into the Ministry for the Environment so it can help local councils implement the Act in a consistent way”.

For more information contact: Cath Wallace (03) 525 8884 (until 10.30 am Thursday) or c/- 025 622 7369 or Friday (04) 389 1696(h) or (04)463-5713.

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