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Limit the Environment Court appeals process says LGNZ

Limit the Environment Court appeals process says LGNZ

Monday 17 October 2011

It’s time to restrict the Environment Court’s appeals process says Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ).

LGNZ wants the Government to rethink the appeals process permanently in light of its recent decision to limit the role of the Environment Court appeal process in Canterbury’s rezoning of residential land.

The change is being made to free up land quickly to assist in the rebuild following the Canterbury earthquakes.

“The appeals process has been used vexatiously and deliberately held up development and planning. This adds tens of thousands of dollars to council legal costs every year. LGNZ has been lobbying government on this issue long and hard.

“This development is a pragmatic response from government …without it the rebuild could take years as appeals are heard in the Environment Court,” said LGNZ spokesperson Fran Wilde.

Environment Canterbury had already proposed the rezoning of new land on the outskirts of Canterbury and the appeals were due to be heard by the Environment Court.

LGNZ believes there are too many steps in the plan making process with the current system and many of the issues lie with the role of the Environment Court.

“There is a significant churn and cost associated with relitigating plans and policies prepared under the Local Government Act (LGA), signed off by councilors and then having to take it through the Resource Management Act (RMA) process – with the Environment Court as the ultimate decider,” said Ms Wilde.

While the decision by the Government to intervene on this occasion is specifically related to the situation in Canterbury LGNZ will continue to advocate to central government about the challenges councils face in the policy and plan making process and highlight what improvements can be made.

ENDS

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