INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government Puts Business Before Environment

Published: Tue 18 Dec 2001 05:12 PM
Environment Minister Marian Hobbs is putting business concerns ahead of the environment with today's announcement of changes to the Resource Management Act.
Under the changes, the Government will allow limited notification of resource consent applications and remove proposed appeal rights on notification decisions. ECO spokesperson, Cath Wallace, says the only explanation for the changes is that the Government wants to appease business.
"Despite the fact so few resource consent applications are ever publicly notified, the Government is pushing ahead with changes that will reduce public input even further", she says.
Ms Wallace points out that only 5% of all resource consent applications are currently notified and only 3% of land use consents - the most common type of consent - are notified.
"Any assessment of the facts shows there is no justification for the changes announced. The proposal to limit notification was been rejected consistently in three rounds of public consultation. The Local Government and Environment Select Committee also rejected the change in its report on the Resource Management Amendment Bill."
Ms Wallace says Minister Hobbs is seriously mistaken if she thinks the changes will be welcomed by the environment community.
"Failure of councils to notify applications has been a major source of complaint within the environmental community. Rather than addressing that, the Minister has opted to go ahead with proposals that are likely to mean less applications are notified." The changes will be a major set-back for the environment community, she says.
Ms Wallace believes the changes go further than the original amendments introduced by former National Environment Minister Simon Upton. "The amendment bill introduced by Mr Upton allowed appeal rights on notification to the Environment Court. This amendment will not know proceed under the Government proposals".
For further information or comment, contact: Cath Wallace, (04) 463 5713 or (04) 389 1696.

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