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RMA improvements are welcomed by business

15 September 2004

Media Release

RMA improvements are welcomed by business, but more can and should be done to make the RMA and council decision making more business friendly

The proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) announced today by the Associate Minister for the Environment, David Benson-Pope, would be welcomed by business, but more could and should be done to make the RMA and councils decision making more business friendly, Peter Neilson CEO of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development said today.

The proposal to develop national standards for infrastructure that can drop directly into plans will be a cost saver for business and consumers.

Obtaining consents to introduce the next generation 3G mobile phone network under the current RMA process would cost each company around $5 million. The Government’s proposals could cut this considerably.

Providing a reconsenting presumption for existing infrastructure will similarly save business and consumers millions of dollars. Requiring the full consenting process for already existing facilities just imposes costs with no benefits for anyone.

The Government’s proposals recognise and acknowledge the major procedural issues with the RMA which relate to council performance in preparing plans and deciding on consents. A minority of councils are clearly not performing currently.

Requiring all councillors involved in making consenting decisions to obtain accreditation will improve things in 2-3 years time. In the meantime applicants should have access by right to consent hearings by independent commissioners.

We will await more information on the Government’s proposed changes to the national call-in procedure before we can comment on their likely effectiveness. To make the national call-in process less political, it would be desirable for the Minister, a council or the applicant to be able to access that channel for consenting.

Similarly business will have concerns if the proposed removal of de novo appeals to the Environment Court occurs before the proposed new processes have been shown to work effectively.

Ends

For Information:-

The Business Council is a coalition of around 50 leading businesses, with a combined turnover of $26 billion, united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, environmental protection and social progress. Its mission is to provide business leadership as a catalyst for change towards sustainable development, and promotes eco-efficiency, innovation and responsible entrepreneurship.

Peter Neilson was appointed Chief Executive in April 2004 to spearhead the Business Council’s move towards policy development and advocacy work. Peter is a former cabinet minister of revenue, customs and works and was associate minister for state-owned enterprises and finance under the Lange Labour Government. Following a period as Leader of the Opposition’s Economic Advisor, Peter moved to private industry, managing a number of international advisory roles, with Ord Minnett Securities, Ernst & Young and more recently with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

ENDS

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