Friday, September 7, 2012

Frank Newman: Environmental activism

When the Resource Management Act (RMA) was first introduced it was with the expectation that it would empower communities. It has done the opposite. It’s evolved into a web of rules and regulations created by environmental activists to advance their preservationist views. The effect has been to increase land prices and stifle economic growth and social wellbeing in the provinces. Rural folk are not happy, and are saying so in greater numbers.

The question I ask is how is it that an “enabling” piece of legislation like the RMA has grow into what it is today?

Since the introduction of the RMA, activist organisations like the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) have been very successful in having their protectionist agenda introduced into rules and regulations. They have been able to do so because they have many hundreds of thousands of (taxpayer and ratepayer) dollars at their disposal to argue their agenda (against taxpayers and ratepayers) at all stages of the law making process, right through to Court mediations and appeals, which is where the final version of local authority rules and regulations are negotiated and written.

Most property owners do not have the stamina or resources to run the course and drop out on the way through leaving only DOC, EDS and local council planning staff around the table to write the rules. That’s why landowners are losing the battle against environmental activists. That’s why protectionist policies like the NZ Coastal Strategy Policy Statement 2010 say nothing about economic benefits or the social benefits of people and jobs. DoC, and the EDS don’t actually care about jobs, or the economic viability of our communities, and to be honest, neither do council planning staff.

When the rules are actually written, who is there arguing for property owners?


Anonymous said...

Could New Zealanders get together and draw up their own Property Rights Bill?

We need to stamp out this dictatorship from environmental extremists.

How much say do Iwi/Treaty of Waitangi have in environmental issues that the activists use to add weight to their arguments?

Frank Newman said...

Iwi and hapu don’t need to attach themselves to the environmental issues – they have their own "mandate" from the RMA which they can advance their cause and financial interests. Maori must be consulted on every resource consent application received by a local authority because the RMA deems them to be an affected party. If more than one iwi or hapu is deemed to have "status" within the territory then all must be consulted. That exposes the Applicant (which may be for nothing more than a farm building) to the cost (potentially multiple times) of cultural assessment reports, monitoring costs during the construction of project, and of course compensation. I know of a marina developer who reserved two berths for Maori to ease their cultural concerns! And where water is involved, underground steams and springs for example, there are likely to be Taniwha and their handlers which will require further compensation.