INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt Loses Nerve Over RMA

Published: Tue 18 Dec 2001 04:30 PM
Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today proposed changes to the Resource Management Act show the Government has lost its nerve and is rolling over for big property developers.
"The Government is backtracking on decisions it made when the bill was in select committee, under pressure from property developers who have always opposed the public having a say in their schemes."
The Government has proposed two changes - it will remove the proposed appeal rights to the Environment Court and it will permit limited notification of resource consents for activities with 'minor' effects.
"These two change will work together in a pernicious way to shut out the public," said Ms Fitzsimons.
"More than 95 percent of all applications under the RMA are not notified for public submissions. The High Court has found a number of cases which were not notified but which should have been under the law.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg as it costs thousands of dollars to go through a High Court appeal. That is why the select committee and environmental groups supported the proposal to allow Environment Court review of notification decisions.
Ms Fitzsimons said limited notification worsens the situation.
"Currently if a council fails to notify when it should, and an objection is brought by a neighbour, this brings it to the attention of the public at large, who can then participate in the process.
"Under the Government proposed changes, even this opportunity will be lost - and there will be no way to challenge council decisions other than highly expensive appeals to the High Court.
"Even National's Simon Upton, who wrote the amendment bill which the House is still considering, supported the right to appeal to the Environment Court.
"I expect that the National Party will be sticking up for his original clause, and will therefore oppose its deletion by the Government.
"The Green Party will not be supporting these amendments."
Ends

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