The RMA (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment law was passed last night.
If it works as it is intended the time, costs and uncertainties involved in going through the consent process will be reduced while still ensuring that the environment is protected.
Among the changes are:
- Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections that can add tens of thousands of dollars to consent applicants
- Streamlining processes for projects of national significance
- Creating an Environmental Protection Authority
- Improving plan development and plan change processes
- Improved resource consent processes
- Streamlined decision making
- Strengthening compliance by increasing penalties and proving for a wider range of enforcement
- Improvements to national instruments
Public focus has been on the change which means Aucklanders will no longer have to get consent to trim or fell their own trees, unless they are protected, which what happens in most of the country.
A flawed assumption by opponents of this law change is that only councils and bureaucrats value trees. And that given half a chance selfish landowners will chop them down.
In essence, this law change is about changing the onus between councils and landowners. At the moment, councils are in the box seat and property owners must seek permission to trim or remove any tree on their property.
What the Government’s amendment bill does is ensure councils consult landowners before putting restrictions on their trees and reflects a greater respect for property rights.
I haven’t noticed treeless suburbs anywhere else in New Zealand where property owners have the right to do as they wish with their own trees.
Trusting people might be a risky concept for people who think councils know best, but surely if the rest of the country can be trusted Aucklanders can too.