4 Feb 2009

'Jury out' on RMA changes - Fed Farmers

9:15 am on 4 February 2009

Federated Farmers is disappointed the Government has not mentioned compensation for landowners in its shake-up of the Resource Management Act.

The Government has released details of the first of its two stages of RMA reform, intended to streamline the resource consent process.

Under changes announced on Tuesday, projects of national significance will go directly to a board of inquiry, known as the Environmental Protection Authority, instead of having to go through local councils.

Measures are also planned to discourage submitters who delay proceedings in bringing cases with little or no merit.

The Government will raise the maximum fine for committing an offence under the Act from $200,000 to $300,000 for individuals, and to $600,000 dollars for corporate offenders.

The second phase of the reforms will deal with aquaculture, fresh water, urban design and infrastructure.

Federated Farmers President Don Nicolson said "the jury's out" on the effect of the changes but described the overhaul as a good first step.

He said although more could be done to protect private property rights, there are some good aspects of the announcement, such as improvements in dealing with vexatious and anti-competitive objectors.

Mr Nicolson is yet to be convinced about the Environmental Protection Authority, which he said appears to be an added layer.