Wellington Regional Council concerned about changes in resource management bill
Chris Laidlaw, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, today endorsed criticism of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill recently made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Department of Conservation.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright said on Tuesday that the Bill gave the Environment Minister broad and potentially far-reaching powers that relied on his subjective judgement of what is reasonable.
The first key issue GWRC raised in its submission on the Bill was opposition to the centralisation of resource management decision-making said Cr Laidlaw.
The Environment Minister and Ministry have ample opportunity under current law to influence or be involved in regional and district planning.
It is alarming that the Minister could make an activity permitted or prohibited, when a council has worked with its community and iwi partners through RMA processes to determine that the activity needs resource consent.
The Minister should look to using existing pathways and processes rather than over-ruling participatory decision-making.
The Department of Conservation advised its Minister that the Bill may prevent the Department from carrying out its statutory duty by limiting who can submit on resource consent applications.
GWRC is in the same boat here. We have stated our opposition to the exclusion of iwi and regional councils from the list of parties to be notified of applications for subdivision. Excluding iwi from involvement in limited notified subdivision applications is completely at odds with other elements of the Bill which seek to improve the constructive involvement of iwi, such as the Iwi Participation Arrangement provisions.
The exclusion of regional councils will limit their ability to provide technical expertise on flood protection, transport links, and biodiversity, and to ensure each Regional Policy Statement is given effect to.
I am looking forward to addressing the Select Committee. This Bill will impose substantial costs on all local authorities and mute community voices in local issues at a time when we are beginning the process of opening these up to community collaboration, Cr Laidlaw added.
For more information: GWRC media phone on 021 914-266
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