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Govt to overhaul 'frustrating' RMA

Thursday 28 Feb 2013 8:53 a.m.

Environment Minister Amy Adams (file)

Environment Minister Amy Adams (file)

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The Government has announced details of its latest plans to overhaul the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Environment Minister Amy Adams on Thursday said the proposed changes would "make it easier to use, increase certainty and predictability, attract investment, reduce unnecessary duplication and cost, whilst continuing to protect the environment".

She said frustration with the 22-year-old Act was "rife".

"The way RMA processes are operating is costing us all in time, money and lost opportunities. The systems have become cumbersome, uncertain and highly litigious," Ms Adams said.

The changes would encourage more proactive planning for community needs up front, rather than the consent-by-consent planning that has become prevalent in many places, she said.

Ms Adams she cited the case of Meridian Energy's plans for a $2 billion wind farm in Otago, which consumed nearly $9 million before being scotched by the Environment Court.

The court criticised the fact that if it were not for the inconsistent and unclear nature of the local plans, much of that cost could have been avoided, Ms Adams said.

RMA planning documents has also drifted into too much over-regulation, she said.

"I have had reports of rules that stipulate lounge rooms in houses must face the street, heritage zone provisions that apply to a 14-year-old Lockwood house, and streetscape rules applied to houses on rear lots, not visible from the street.

"And just this week, I was made aware of a council that wanted to dictate the size of the front windows of new houses."

The proposed reforms are divided into six core objectives:

  • Greater national consistency and guidance,
  • Fewer, better resource management plans,
  • An effective and efficient consenting system,
  • Better natural hazard management,
  • Effective and meaningful Maori participation,
  • Working with councils to improve their RMA service performance.

Submissions close on April 2.


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