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Councillor accreditation welcomed

Councillor accreditation welcomed

The extent of pollution in lowland streams and rivers shows formal Resource Management Act (RMA) training for local government politicians is needed according to Forest and Bird, which welcomed today's launch of the 'Making Good Decisions' programme by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs.

"Forest and Bird members and staff frequently attend RMA hearings for local plans and resource consents. We have been training members of the community to help people to participate effectively. We are pleased the Government is now training the decision makers," said Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

"Forest and Bird hopes it will lead to greater involvement of the community in decision making and fewer appeals to the Environment Court. In some cases, Forest and Bird has had to appeal decisions that were clearly inconsistent with published case-law," he said.

"RMA decision makers can have a huge impact on the environment we live in. Most lowland streams are too polluted to safely swim in - hardly an endorsement of some of the decisions that have been made," he said.

"It is important that those making decisions on resource consents and district or regional plans understand both the RMA and appropriate processes for conducting hearings. This training will be particularly important if the Government brings in new powers for RMA hearings panels that could be open to abuse," he said.

NOTES

The first Making Good Decisions training workshops will be run by Auckland University in February and March next year. Registrations open on 18 October and close on 15 December this year, and councillors and commissioners are encouraged to enrol. Further information is available on the Ministry for the Environment website at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/

The research by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Sciences published in June this year showed that most lowland streams are too polluted to swim in. The abstract of the research is at: http://www.rsnz.govt.nz/publish/nzjmfr/2004/031.php

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