Another meeting to explain RMA changes

Another public meeting has been called in Dunedin to explain the possible local impact of the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.

Organiser Emeritus Prof Jocelyn Harris, co-chairwoman of Sustainable Dunedin, said the group felt it was necessary to have the Thursday evening meeting to help inform people about what was proposed as there were significant changes hidden in the documentation.

The RMA was a critical piece of legislation that helped communities manage what was allowed to happen in both the natural and built environment, and changes to it would affect everyone, Prof Harris said.

Under the proposed reforms, protection given to landscapes, biodiversity, freshwater fisheries, heritage and recreation was likely to be reduced, she said.

The ability for concerned or affected people to take part in RMA processes that related to them would also be reduced for some, but increased for others.

Constructive central guidance and leadership were also promised, but the group was greatly concerned about the proposals to remove or override decision-making powers of local councils and override appeals to the Environment Court.

It was felt necessary to have another public meeting to clarify for people the more subtle of the changes proposed and their potential effects, in the hope that more people would be encouraged to make submissions before the April 2 deadline.

Political commentator Rod Oram, Green MP Eugenie Sage and environmental lawyer Maree Baker-Galloway will be at the meeting to explain the potential effect of the proposed changes.

Representatives from the Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council, Fish and Game and Forest and Bird will also offer their thoughts on the proposed changes, and respond to people's questions.

The meeting will take place in the Burns Hall on Thursday, starting at 7pm.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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