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RMA Package Falls Way Short of Serious Reform

Wednesday 15 September, 2004

RMA Package Falls Way Short of Serious Reform

"The government's review of the Resource Management Act has come up with only minimalist improvements", Roger Kerr, executive director of the New Zealand Business Roundtable said today.

"On a scale of zero (equals no improvement) to ten (equals a high quality reform) it rates a mark of about one-and-a-half.

Mr Kerr welcomed a number of proposals including:

* the idea of accreditation of council hearing members;

* an improved ministerial call-in procedure (although the detail would be important);

* relaxing bureaucratic prerequisites to national policy statements;

* the identification of who is tangata whenua; and

* increasing the leadership role of the Ministry for the Environment in relation to local

government.

However, the package also contains dubious moves such as giving the Environment Court the power currently held by the High Court to decide notification issues and allowing regional policy statements to govern district plans (a likely recipe for conflict).

"It is disappointing that the package did not include many more very modest reforms advocated by numerous parties, such as reintroducing security for costs and limiting standing to parties directly affected by a project", Mr Kerr said.

"Also it is woeful that after nearly five years the government is still only talking vaguely about natural resource allocation issues.

"More importantly, no one should think that this package measures up to the need for faster resolution of RMA-related problems that are holding up progress with roading projects, electricity industry investment and many other desirable developments.

"The government and other political parties must be pressed to do more", Mr Kerr concluded.

ENDS

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