INDEPENDENT NEWS

Changes to the RMA Must Be Substantial

Published: Mon 1 Oct 2001 05:29 PM
Changes to the RMA Must Be Substantial
Monday, October 1 2001 Gerry Eckhoff Press Releases -- Environment & Conservation
ACT Environment Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today he welcomed the National Party's change of heart on the Resource Management Act ' but said ACT would continue to demand substantial reform.
"ACT has long been the champion of reform of the RMA ' indeed we are still assessing whether the RMA is redeemable at all, or whether it would be better to abolish it. There must be no question of simply tweaking the RMA.
"There are a number of issues within the RMA which need urgent attention and which in my view are non-negotiable. For example, property rights must be recognised. Where property is taken for a conservation purpose, compensation must be payable. Greater standing must be given to local submitters, to stop regions being adversely affected by those who don't even live locally or are not directly affected. In addition there must be the capacity to allocate costs against those who make vexatious claims and are seeking to make money out of the process.
"Below are the nine changes we see as most vital:
1. DoC must be removed from the RMA process with no right to appeal district plans. Their function is to manage the conservation estate, not waste taxpayers' money on court costs.
2. Remove all references to intrinsic, inherent and spiritual values from the act they are far too subjective.
3. Private property rights must not be attenuated without agreed compensation.
4. The process must be simplified. A commissioner to replace council members who do sit in judgement on their own rules.
5. Weighting or standing must be given to witnesses or submitters.
6. Costs to be allocated against those who make vexatious claims.
7. Compliance costs must be brought down.
8. Greater emphasis on section 32 - find better ways to achieve results.
9. Direct access to the Environment Court with rights of appeal then directly to the High Court.
Common law and not the RMA offers the environment the very best hope.
"ACT has been saying for sometime, and it is now becoming accepted, that the RMA in its current form is the greatest inhibition to growth in this country. The opportunity cost is inestimable. The country's future depends on major change to the RMA, because property rights are the environment's best defence," Gerry Eckhoff said.
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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