Planning reform report a turning point?

 A joint report from business and environmentalists on the Resource Management laws could be a turning point for both planning and environmental protection, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. 

“The four organisations, the Environmental Defence Society, the Property Council, the EMA and NZCID are to be congratulated for a mature and considered approach in yesterday’s report.

“Three points stand out for me: 

  1. At long last there is recognition that many of the frustrations arise outside the RMA, from the Building Act and the Local Government Act. 
  1. Regional councils have been ineffective in stopping pollutions of our rivers, estuaries and wetlands. The report highlights that many participants in the study believe this is because Regional Councils have been captured by farming interests, and central government has failed to provide the national direction needed. 
  1. Urban planning improvements need to address more than the RMA, and must to pay better attention to empirical evidence and rational economic principles, rather than conjecture and suppressed price signals. 

“Labour agrees this is complex work which needs to be carried forward through measured inquiry, which we will follow through when elected. 

“National has for the last 8 years made the RMA ever more complex, without fixing the wider urban planning challenge, or the rural environment. The result is unaffordable house prices and dirty rivers. National has failed. 

“The latest bungled amendments to the RMA by National are so flawed that it has been stuck with no progress since December last year! 

“National’s current Bill once again makes the RMA more complex and undermines the environment. It removes rights of public participation and confers dictatorial powers on the Minister, Nick Smith.  The submitters –developers, councils, or environmental NGOs - don’t want it, and they are right.  

“Meetings to progress the bill at Select Committee have been delayed for month upon month upon month, because the Government does not know how to proceed. Two special days of meetings scheduled for next week were cancelled yesterday, because cabinet has yet to make up its mind. 

“In Labour’s view, it is time for National to admit their latest RMA Bill does not help, and in fact makes things worse, and should be dumped,“ says David Parker.