RMA changes improve process still protect environment

February 3, 2009

There are sound economic, environmental and social reasons for protecting and enhancing our air, soil and water which is why the general thrust of the Resource Management Act – the sustainable development of physical resources –  is good.

However, worthy though the intentions of the RMA are it’s implementation leaves more than a little to be desired so National’s plan to streamline it are welcome.

The changes are to be announced today and the NBR reports they’ll include:

* Major projects to be considered by a board of inquiry headed by an Environment Court judge or a retired judge replacing two hearings – at local body then Environment Court level. There would be limited appeal rights.

* Measures to crack down on vexatious or frivolous objections and attempts to misuse the process to get delays.

* Changes to allow local councils change plans faster and remove the requirement that those making submissions on proposed changes had to be given the opportunity to comment on other submissions.

* Tougher fines for major breaches up from the current maximum of $200,000.

I don’t think any of these will threaten our air, soil and water quality but they should reduce the time and costs involved in applying for consent.

We had a very expensive experience  with a vexatious objection when we applied for consent to take water fromt he Kakanui River.

But a two year delay, $20,000 in direct costs and more in lost income when we had to dry cows off early because we ran out of irrigation water part way through the season was minor compared with what many other applicants go through as an NBR opnion piece by Hamish Firth on the good, the bad and the costly  illustrates.


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