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Business welcomes action to hurry consents

April 22, 2010

Media Release

Business welcomes action to hurry slow councils on resources consents

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development welcomes Government moves to provide discounts to applicants whose councils are slow to process resource consents.

The new discounts announced by Environment Minister Nick Smith in order to improve councils’ performances could speed up economic activity, Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says.

“The cost of a builder’s delay in starting work is much greater than the discount but it will result in councils reviewing their operations, charges and processes,” Mr Neilson says.

The most recent official report shows only four of the country’s 84 councils were fully complying with the law by processing resource consents on time.

This shows the case for reform, Mr Neilson says.

Most businesses and New Zealanders want proposals to be verified for the management of their environmental affects.

“Time wasting activity by councils undermines support for the Resource Management Act (RMA) which is designed to ensure our growth goes hand-in-hand with an improved quality of life here.”

More pro-active consents management is needed from councils.
Many could be accepting applications then finding them non-compliant.

Some councils were having to ask for more information on more than 70% of the applications they received.

Proactive management would lead to more compliant applications being made and processed on time.

Mr Neilson says one council, Hamilton City, led the way after imposing fee refund penalties on itself several years ago if it failed to issue resource consents within the time required by the RMA. It has since been one of the top on-time performers.

“The new regulations imposing discounts, starting at 1% per working day, to a maximum of 50%, should encourage councils to address poor performance.”

Business Council research on this proposed policy, when Mr Smith was Opposition environment spokesperson, showed 65% support for it.

While 51% rated the service they received from their local authority during the resource consent process as good to excellent (17% excellent), 46% thought it was average to poor (27% poor).

When the Wellington Regional Council and Hamilton City can achieve 99% on time processing, and four councils 100%, it is clearly possible to comply with the law’s 20-day processing requirement, Mr Neilson says.

“The Business Council has been pressing for improved consenting performance for years. The delays come at a huge cost to communities, businesses, jobs and the economy. That’s totally unnecessary. For business, time is money and unnecessary delay puts costs up for everyone.”

The full report on councils’ consenting performance is available at
http://www.nzbcsd.org.nz/story.asp?id=1004


ENDS

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