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Former Environment Judge joins list of RMA critics

30 April 2009
Media Statement

Former Environment Judge joins list of RMA critics

National’s rushed amendments to the RMA came under further fire today with a former Environment Court Judge slamming a number of the provisions as seriously deficient, says Labour MP Shane Jones.

Mr Jones, Labour’s local government and infrastructure spokesman, said the Government’s proposed RMA changes have been heavily criticised by submitters at select committee hearings throughout the week.

“Submitters are saying the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill will have the opposite effect of its intent and will instead become a major handbrake on development and the sustainable management of natural resources.

“The transfer of decision-making around designations to territorial authorities has also been strongly opposed by submitters who believe this will increase costs for network utility operators and slow infrastructure development.

“Submitters have also argued the plan to remove ‘non-complying activities’ will decrease the ability of councils to provide environmental protection and incur major costs,” Shane Jones says.

“Indeed the Christchurch City Council agreed at today’s hearing in Christchurch that it would cost about $100 million for councils to alter their district plans as a consequence of Environment Minister Nick Smith’s so-called simplifying bill.

“Former Environment Court Judge Peter Skelton, an Honorary Professor at Lincoln University, told the committee a number of provisions in the Bill were seriously deficient.

“He said the provisions relating to the notification of consents would create renewed uncertainty for all parties involved and most importantly would reduce the public’s right to participate in the process,” Shane Jones says.

“Professor Skelton also said amendments requiring councils to offer discounts if they fail to process consent applications in a timely fashion were unrealistic and doomed to create more arguments about process and therefore more delays.”

“Environment Canterbury also raised a number of concerns and agreed that the Bill will substantially shut down public participation and hand over resource management decisions to judges, lawyers, corporates and high-paid lobbiests.

“Nick Smith alarmed the public with his irresponsible handling of ACC and and now his RMA reforms look set to unravel in the face of widespread opposition. “


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