ORC takes aim at planned RMA reform

Stephen Woodhead
Stephen Woodhead
Proposals to streamline the resource consent process and increase local government productivity came under fire from the Otago Regional Council this week.

The council decided to make submissions on the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012 and the New Zealand Productivity Commission: Towards Better Local Regulation at its meeting.

The reform Bill aimed to further streamline the resource consent regime, streamline the delivery of Auckland's first combined plan, improve the quality of local decision making and improve the workability of the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Council policy director Fraser McRae said the proposals seemed to counter the simplifications or streamlining the Government was trying to attain.

The most concerning changes were around the section 32 reports councils prepare for resource consents, which would require economic analysis and quantification of costs and benefits, he said.

''The proposed changes will result in increased time required to undertake cost-benefit analysis and will therefore result in greater costs of undertaking the work.''

Chairman Stephen Woodhead said the changes seemed to ignore the fact that small projects could have big impacts and the call for more information on consents was concerning''The potential to cost more time and money is ridiculous.''

The productivity report was not very complimentary of the way central government treated local government, he said.

Mr McRae said the commission's draft report expressed concerns that were ''a little alarmist'' and assumed the checks and balances in the regulations did not work.

''It appeared to miss the major point about inconsistencies in approach between local and central government.''

It also appeared to be a response to complaints from the private sector about getting tied up in local government red tape.

''Don't blame us - we do what the statutes tell us to.''

The major concern not addressed was how central government delegated work to local government without considering the costs, he said.

Cr Michael Deaker said the council needed to push the point there needed to be some latitude to allow diversity, as areas were ''not the same and never will be''.