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03, Feb, 2009

Parliament must to listen to community concerns over RMA changes


Category: ECO Inc

Parliament must listen to everyone about radical changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), a coalition of environmental NGOs is urging.

“Parliament should slow down the process of considering the Government’s proposed changes to the RMA because they’ve been rushed together without consultation with community organisations and others who will be badly affected by them,” said Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (ECO) co-chairperson Barry Weeber.

“Most New Zealanders will not be able to afford the legal cost of getting fair representation when their local environment and community is under attack from unscrupulous developers because of the huge cost securities that will have be posted before any appeal."

Mr Weeber said it appears the Government thinks ordinary New Zealanders who care about the environment or community are a barrier to the ambitions of big developers and they want them out of the way.

“It appears to be driven by the desire of some in government to override environmental and community concerns for the sake of economic interests, including those of the government itself.”

“While the Government claims to have consulted the leaders of sectors, they appear to not have consulted the people who will be affected – those voluntary community groups and passionate individuals all around New Zealand who stand up for New Zealand’s environment.

These proposals will fast track large developments and those who can afford a legal steamroller. It will nor help smaller projects and will hinder the community and endanger the environment.”

“Overturning the presumption that consents are notified will mean very few consents are notified. Already less than 5 percent of consents are publicly notified.”

“ECO welcomes the proposed increase in fines, but warns that they must be backed up with good rules and enforcement,” he said.

Notes:

1. ECO – the Environment and Conservation Organisations was established in 1972 and represents 61 groups with a concern for the environment.