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Waitaki legislation not needed.

December 3, 2003 – Wellington
MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Waitaki legislation not needed.

Forest and Bird urged Parliamentarians to reject the Waitaki legislation tabled in Parliament today unless the Government can prove a combination of a National Policy Statement on water and national minimum river flow standards was not a feasible alternative.

Forest and Bird welcomes the commitment of the Government to resolve problems with the management of the Waitaki River, but questioned why new legislation was needed when existing provisions of the Resource Management Act were adequate.

“It is fashionable to blame the RMA for sloppy decisions by local government and a lack of guidance by central government,” said Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell. “It’s good to see that the Government realizes it needs to show more leadership, but is this really the way to fix the problem?”

“Money and staff time taken preparing and implementing this special legislation to over-ride Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council) would have been better spent on using the Act’s existing tools to help guide water allocation problems nationally; and helping Environment Canterbury finish its Natural Resources Regional Plan,” he said.

“Tinkering with the RMA is not the way to solve problems of leadership. National Standards, National Policy Statements and better training for councillors and council staff are what is needed,” he said.

“The Government has made positive steps with a commitment to a National Policy Statement on Biodiversity, six draft National Standards and a proposed accreditation system for councilors. So it is a pity that they’ve gone back to expensive ‘one-off’ legislative responses to generic nationwide problems,” he said.

Notes

The Resource Management Act enables central government to create National Environmental Standards and National Policy Statements. These provisions enable the Government to set policies and standards to provide direction to local government. The only National Policy Statement completed to date is a Coastal Policy Statement prepared by the Department of Conservation. Six National Standards and one National Policy Statement on Biodiversity are in preparation”.

Contact: Kevin Hackwell, Conservation Manager, 04 385 7374 (w), 04 389 4815 (h), 025 227 8420

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