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RMA reforms must balance efficiency with local democracy

RMA reforms must balance efficiency and effectiveness with local democracy

28 February 2013

Planning and resource consent processes need to be streamlined but without compromising public participation and local decision-making by elected representatives, the President of Local Government New Zealand, Lawrence Yule, said today.

Commenting on the Government discussion paper on Resource Management Act (RMA) reform, released today by the Minister for the Environment, Hon Amy Adams, Mr Yule said many of the proposals in it had significant potential to make processes less cumbersome and costly.

“We want to work with Government to build public confidence in the RMA - that is good for everyone.” said Mr Yule.

“There are some aspects we are particularly pleased with – for example, the proposal to recognise, as a matter of national importance, the risk associated with natural hazards.

“However, the proposed alternative Board of Inquiry or Crown body that would decide on some planning and consent matters needs to be treated with caution. Local democracy sits at the heart of the RMA, allowing communities and their local elected representatives to make the decisions that best serve and enhance the well-being of their communities.” said Mr Yule.

One of the more significant proposals for the local government sector is the possible requirement for a single resource management plan.

“It’s vital that central Government work with local government on this proposal to ensure that, if proceeded with, it is effective and workable.”

LGNZ supports the Minister's statement that the Environment Court has an important role to play in relation to planning and consenting, but the judiciary should not be placed in the position of having to determine values or policy – this is the role of publicly accountable, elected representatives. Community values and policy are for democratically elected councils to decide, LGNZ says. Accordingly, the proposal to narrow the scope of Environment Court appeals on plans seems sensible.

ENDS

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