Dr Strong Says RMA Review Shouldn’t Pander To Developers


Massey University academic Dr Cathy Strong has given warning the review of the Resource Management Act should not just focus on cutting costs for developers.

Dr Cathy Strong

Dr Strong, who lives in Te Horo, says: “I applaud (the) announcement that the 30-year-old Resource Management Act is going to be reviewed.

“But top of the agenda for the review should be the need for the public to know what is planned in their neighbourhood.

Public notification vital

More requirements for public notification of projects is paramount to preserve New Zealand’s special environment.”

Dr Strong, a senior lecturer with the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, is concerned the main reason for the review seems to be to cut costs.

“Cutting costs for developers should not override the crucial need to keep projects transparent and accountable to the public. We need to make sure developments and large change of land-use get public notification,” she says. 

When the Resource Management Act first came in it was a breath of fresh air for ensuring local authorities systematically gave permission for building projects that may impact on the environment, or cut down public access to natural resources.

Numerous complaints

“Recently, however, there have been numerous complaints of projects not being revealed to residents beforehand.

People want to know what is going on in their region and can point out valuable issues that need to be addressed. It is a case of KWIMBY – knowing what is in my back yard – and not necessarily a case of being for or against developments.”

The decision to hold a limited notification process,a publicly notified process, or no notification lies squarely on the shoulders of the council handling the resource consent application. Strict criteria are laid out n the act, but the final decision lies with the council. Yes, as a qualified Resource Management Act Commissioner and Chair I also applaud the decision to carry out a complete and urgent overhaul of the Act, and more direction to councils should be given in the criteria to force notification. The preliminary decision to split the act in two, is most desirable to reduce the cumbersome presence it has as we all try to move forward in balancing adequate environmental protection with the urgent need to provide affordable housing for all.

Dr Cathy Strong is quite right about the need for more notification — the two big developments in Waikanae that should have been notified and weren’t are Waikanae North and the enormous Maypole company scheme, which involve several hundred housing units. The impacts that they have on the communities nearby are substantial, not to mention the need for a lot more public infrastructure to cope with them.

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