Owen Mcshane's Report On Resource Management Act Released

  • Simon Upton

"Owen McShane's 'Think Piece', released today, will initiate three months' serious debate on the thorny issue of land use controls and the scope of the RMA", the Minister for the Environment, Hon Simon Upton, said today.

"Trying to guarantee good environmental quality, protect the reasonable expectations of landowners and deal with genuinely conflicting interests in a fair and affordable way is no easy task.

"Seven years after the RMA was passed in 1991," Mr Upton said, "the perception is that land use restrictions seem to be as extensive as ever. Heavy handed regulations stem in part from poor implementation at the council level. They may also be the inevitable result of a permissive Act - one which may generate far less red-tape than the old Town and Country Planning legislation in one district but infinitely more in another.

"Rather than call for an official document that attempts to steer a 'neutral' course through very contentious subject matter, I have commissioned one of the Act's critics to crystallise the argument. McShane's report doesn't attempt to adopt some 'balanced' middle way. It sets out to challenge in a provocative fashion whether many land use controls with which we've long been familiar can be justified at all."

To provide the 'balance' Mr Upton has invited Ken Tremaine, Bob Nixon and Guy Salmon to provide commentaries.

Mr Upton stressed that Owen McShane's report does not represent government policy. "It is, quite unashamedly, a piece designed to provoke debate. We have allowed three months for this. Then the Government will decide what action, if any, is required".

Mr Upton hoped that the government would be in the position to introduce any legislative amendments in the second half of the year. He concluded, "While I caution against any illusion that there are simple solutions in this area, I am aware there is a real public desire to cut red tape when it doesn't seem to bring any environmental gain".