Govt Steers Realistic Course On RMA Review

  • Simon Upton

Environment Minister Simon Upton today released the Government's proposed amendments to the Resource Management Act, describing them as "realistic and sensible improvements".

"The Proposals document expands in detail the areas for possible amendment that I announced on 25 September. Wherever possible, draft amendments have been provided to enable the public and practitioners to form a precise idea of what legal effect the proposed changes might have", Mr Upton said.

Final policy decisions will not be taken until next February, giving the public a further opportunity to consider the options set out in the paper.

"The review has been a step by step process that has allowed considered public debate - which is entirely appropriate for the review of such an important and complex statute", Mr Upton said. "It is perhaps not surprising, given the broad nature of the Act, that the proposals go too far for some and not far enough for others".

"I am confident, however, that most New Zealanders will benefit from the proposed series of changes which are designed to reduce unnecessary delays and costs in the RMA process without undermining the Act's environmental objectives.

"As I have said many times, I'm not prepared to defend pointless red-tape or social planning under the guise of environmentalism, but, equally, I will not preside over the 'gutting' of this legislation. The RMA is as near to an environmental constitution as we have. For that reason the Government has not proposed any significant changes to Part II, the environmental heart, of the Act. Neither has the Government in any way limited community participation in the setting of the rules which govern environmental management".

"The Government had originally intended to release its Proposals on 23 October and comments were to be received until early December. As the release of the Proposals has taken longer than hoped, the period for comment on the proposals will be extended to 31 January. The Government will proceed to finalise amendments for introduction in the House", Mr Upton concluded.