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Controversial RMA Bill about to reach Parliament

Controversial RMA Bill about to reach Parliament

Today’s Cape Kidnappers Environment Court decision should be a wake-up call for the Government on the eve of a major Resource Management Act (RMA) reform. The Government is widely expected to table major changes to the Resource Management Act tomorrow.

“The Environment Court has slated the Hastings District Council for taking an ‘uncompromisingly partisan’ approach in favour of billionaire Julian Robertson’s proposed development at Cape Kidnappers,” said Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The Government should not be introducing new RMA powers for local authorities at a time when some councils cannot be trusted to act impartially. The proposal to allow council hearing panels to strike out submissions from objectors is completely unacceptable while councils act in a partisan manner,” he said.

“We are also concerned that the Government may introduce new fast-track powers for its own RMA decision making as part of the RMA Amendment Bill. In proposals released as part of the current RMA review, it is clear that the Government is considering wider powers to make decisions at a national level using a modified ‘call-in’ process,” he said.

“A new call-in process would enable the Government to fast track major projects like hydro schemes, coal mines and new prisons,” he said.

“One use of new call-in powers would be to enable the Government to fast track designations for the controversial North Island electricity upgrade. The upgrade of transmission lines into Auckland was named on the list of 39 possible candidates for non-local decision making in a draft Ministry for the Environment paper on the RMA Review,” he said.

“If the Auckland transmission system gets fast tracked, local landowners affected by the proposed upgrade could lose their rights to appeal designations over their land to the Environment Court,” he said.

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