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Voter backing for new national environt statements

Overwhelming voter backing for use of new time and cost cutting national environment statements

Business leaders today welcomed a Government move to cut the red tape involved in securing planning consents from every council in the country for telecommunications developments, while ensuring the environment is still protected.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, whose 66 member companies' $44 billion in annual sales equate to more than 34% of the gross domestic product, says the move to use national standards marks a significant breakthrough for consumers, business and the country.

New national ShapeNZ polling to hand this week also shows 64% of New Zealanders support the use of National Policy Statements (NPS) and National Environment Statements (NES).

The statements set out the rules for allowing an activity across the country without the need for a consent applicant to go one by one to more than 70 local and regional authorities for consent to do the same thing.

The nationwide ShapeNZ poll of 3377 New Zealanders, conducted between February 26 and March 3, also shows 71% of people think the greater use of national statements and standards should be encouraged. 59% say that centralised environmental standards that set rules for infrastructure development across the country are preferable to local and regional rules governing such development. (The scientifically conducted weighted poll has a maximum margin of error of 1.7%).

Greater use of the statements is backed by 66% of current Labour and Green voters, 61% of National and 69% of Maori Party voters. 56% of undecided voters support greater use of statements.

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard yesterday announced new regulations governing the size of and noise from telecommunications equipment such as antennas, masts and roadside cabinets have now been approved and will be drafted.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says his organisation advocated for greater use of national statements during the last major review of the Resource Management Act in 2005.

"Using these statements will ensure consistent performance across the country, rather than have more than 76 councils making separate decisions and potentially setting different standards. This way we do it once, do it well and get all the interested parties, including business, consumers and environmentalists, are involved in making sure a good decision is made.

"Big councils might be able to afford to set good standards, but many smaller ones can't. In the end the consumers pay because of the unnecessary cost of multiple consent applications with variable results.

"The announcement yesterday – and the greater use of statements – should we welcomed by anyone who wants to ensure the Resource Management Act works efficiency and effectively. Business isn't opposed to the RMA, just to the unnecessary time and cost it takes to get decisions.

"Kiwis will back this commonsense decision on telecommunications – and any other proposed statements to shorten the consent track, lower costs, make standards more consistent without removing or lowering any of the safeguards which protect the environment," Mr Neilson said.

The ShapeNZ poll results on national statements are online at www.nzbcsd.org.nz


ENDS

See... ShapeNZ_PUBLISH_national_environmental_statements_3377_weighted.doc

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