Govt Wants Greater Certainty In Rma

  • Nick Smith

Conservation Minister, Nick Smith today announced that the Government intends to prepare a National Policy Statement to help local authorities interpret and implement the conservation principles of the Resource Management Act.

"Some Councils have been fumbling around in the dark when it comes to implementing the provisions of the Act that deal with protecting wildlife habitats. We need to give greater national direction so that property owners can have certainty about the effects of the Act and the limits to Council powers. A National Policy Statement will add clarity to the law and put an end to some of the excesses that are frustrating landowners while ensuring the core principles of the Act are still achieved."

The National Policy Statement will guide Councils and the Environment Court in interpreting the Resource Management Act. It will focus on section 6 of the Act and in particular clarify the sections which make it a matter of national importance to protect significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna. The statement will go through a process of consultation with Councils, farmers and others.

"From the far North to the deep South farmers have been at war with Councils over these issues. It is not fair to expect Councils or landowners to operate in a vacuum on these matters of national importance. In agreeing to this step, Government is responding to the many pleas from local authorities and farm and forest organisations."

Mr Smith emphasised that the development of the policy statement was closely integrated with the Government's proposed improvements to the Resource Management Act and the Government's New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, which would be released in draft form before the end of the year.