Published 16 October 2009
The release on this event was issued a fortnight ago, coinciding with the Resource Management (Simplifying & Streamlining) Amendment Act, which came into effect on 1 October; I lost the email but figured, when I discovered it yesterday, it should be recorded
New Zealand got an Environmental Protection Authority on 1 October, intended to overcome the stifling & expensive inefficiency of the consent & appeals system.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith said it marked a new era in managing New Zealand’s natural resources – the Government would take a more active role and major resource consents would be processed nationally.
"A weakness in New Zealand’s environmental management has been the degree to which major decisions have been left to regional & local authorities and it’s taking longer to approve consents than to build major projects. The establishment of the authority is about providing greater national leadership and enabling timely decisions on critical infrastructure."
The amendment act enables major resource consent applicants to apply directly to the new agency. Mr Smith said: "This reform has come about because the current system is slow, costly & inefficient. It is unrealistic to expect small councils to have the resources to be able to cope with major consents. Inevitably council decisions are appealed to the Environment Court, dragging out the process for years. This new system will enable the decisions to be made through a single robust process that incorporates both local & national considerations.
"The genesis of this new authority was National’s 2006 Bluegreen Vision for New Zealand. The authority will initially be a statutory office within the Environment Ministry, but further Cabinet decisions on its broader role are being considered. These may include environmental responsibility for New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone, oversight of hazardous substances & new organisms and the administrative functions of the emissions trading scheme.
"The Government’s broader intent is for the Environmental Protection Authority to be the national regulator on environmental issues and the Ministry for the Environment to be a smaller policy agency.
"This reform strengthens New Zealand’s system of environmental management and will help achieve the Government’s goal of growing our economy while effectively protecting our natural environment."
Website: Environmental Protection Authority
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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.