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Govt restores 'applicant pays' for EEZ marine consents; restores RMA repeal rights

Thursday 3rd May 2018

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The government has introduced a bill to amend the Exclusive Economic Zone Act to ensure those applying for notifiable marine consents pay for the Board of Inquiry that considers their applications, rather than the taxpayer picking up the cost. It also announced a wider review of the Resource Management Act in 2019. 


"The 2017 amendments to the RMA and the EEZ were widely criticised for adding complexity and cost. Worse still, they changed the cost recovery rule and put the bill on the taxpayer. The amendment Act is needed to fix that mistake,” Environment Minister David Parker said.


The cost-recovery provision will not apply for applications that were made before the amendment comes into force, Parker said. 


The RMA was subject to repeated attempts at reform during the three terms of the previous National Party-led government, which was unable to achieve the extent of change it initially envisaged because of its weak position in the Parliament.


Nonetheless, reforms achieved in 2017 still drew opposition from a very broad range of interests, ranging from the New Zealand Law Society, local government, major infrastructure developers, environmental lobbyists, and major industry players.


Objections included the extent of proposed new ministerial powers to override local government planning documents, to control resource consents, and to limit participation rights. Reduced rights of appeal have also been widely criticised, while detail dealing with alternative collaborative processes were viewed as adding unnecessary complexity. 


Parker said the government will be introducing a range of other, short-term changes to the RMA over the next year, such as reversing the change that took away appeal rights of applicants and objectors on residential activities and subdivision of land.


“This ill-considered change resulted in some developers submitting applications that they ensured were non-complying in order to maintain their own appeal rights. Restoring their right to appeal on discretionary activities will remove the perverse incentive created by the 2017 law change,” Parker said. 


Parker also said a "more comprehensive" longer-term review of the resource management system will be considered next year, building on the government’s work on urban development and water issues, and informed by work from outside government. 



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