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Nat's RMA policy: right direction, detail needed

Media release 25 July 2005

National's RMA policy: the right direction but more detail needed

National's RMA policy indicates the party has been listening, says Business NZ.

Chief Executive Phil O'Reilly says business advocacy and other groups have been consistently calling for a rethink of the RMA, to:

* focus on sustainable development, not just sustainable management

* give greater recognition to economic activity and property rights

* get a better system for allocating scarce resources (e.g. tradeable rights for water)

* develop national environmental standards, to reduce inconsistency between council decisions

* get a definition of 'environment' that's focused more tightly on physical resources, with less woolly talk about aesthetic, spiritual and cultural issues

* reduce the ability for competitors or ideological claimants to hamper legitimate development

* speed up consent processing

* ensure that minor adverse effects are not able to outweigh substantial economic benefits in projects of national significance

"Nationals' policy statement released today addresses all but the last of these. Ensuring minor adverse effects do not outweigh substantial economic benefits is a key issue that the business community would be interested in getting clarity on.

"Generally speaking, National's RMA statement today appears positive in principle, although business will be waiting to see the fine print, since technical details have bedeviled the RMA in the past.

"It is commendable that National has committed to fast-tracking legislation to speed up RMA consent processing," Mr O'Reilly said.

"National's commitment to consulting thoroughly on the RMA's more fundamental issues is also positive, although care will be needed to avoid the potential for MMP stonewalling, given the entrenched positions of some minority groups. Commitment to a timeframe for legislative change for these issues would be useful."


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