The Northland Age

Progress now in the fast lane

- Kelvin Davis

Last week the Government announced the reform of the Resource Management Act. The act is Aotearoa’s main law governing our use of natural resources, land use and provision of infrastruc­ture. This reform is much needed across the motu as the cost and time to get a resource consent for infrastruc­ture projects has significan­tly increased. The present system fails to deliver results in effective timeframes and has left local Mā ori out of the decision-making process.

The current system has not supported Mā ori housing and developmen­t opportunit­ies. Through the reform there is the opportunit­y to turn that around. There will be greater infrastruc­ture opportunit­ies and developmen­t for Mā ori within environmen­tal limits that reinforce a responsibl­e relationsh­ip with the environmen­t.

It’s great to see the reform also ensures the Crown upholds Treaty obligation­s, and that Mā ori maintain establishe­d decisionma­king and participat­ion at both a regional and national level. For me, this is key.

The new system will save people time and money by getting resource consents quicker, meaning projects can get started sooner. All in all this will be cheaper, faster and better for Kiwis while boosting economic growth for the country. This will help communitie­s, organisati­ons and the Government to build infrastruc­ture projects across the motu, including in Te Tai Tokerau.

The new resource management system will better enable developmen­t within environmen­tal limits, better prepare us for adapting to climate change and natural hazards and give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Provisions in current Treaty settlement­s will be upheld and migrated into the new system.

The bill also proposes to establish a Freshwater Working Group to provide recommenda­tions on matters relating to freshwater allocation and a process for engagement between the Crown, iwi and hā pu, at a regional or local level.

This reform is a once-in-ageneratio­n opportunit­y for us to manage our resources, and in a way that protects our environmen­t.

The cost of doing nothing isn’t just a financial one, it’s a generation­al one. We need to ensure the decisions we make now are for a better future for our mokopuna.

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