National has a clear plan for a second phase of improvements to the Resource Management Act to support a stronger economy, better management of natural resources and simplify planning processes, National Party Environment Spokesman Nick Smith says.

“Our first round of reforms to get nationally significant infrastructure processed within nine months and to reduce the delays on small non-notified consents are working well. We now want to focus on achieving better performance for medium-sized notified applications by requiring that decisions be made within six months,” Dr Smith says.

“It is unacceptable that many of the 1800 notified consents covering new factories, commercial buildings, subdivisions and regional infrastructure take much longer than a year to resolve. These delays cost jobs, impose significant holding costs and cause frustration for all concerned. It is nonsensical that projects take longer to consent than they actually take to build.”

The Prime Minister and Dr Smith announced National’s Resource Management policy at the site of a $15 million new four-level building by Major Property Tauranga Ltd that took nearly two years to get a resource consent. The project is now going ahead with the first tower cranes in Tauranga in five years.

“Our concern is not the final decisions from the RMA but the time it takes for a decision to be made. We can’t have bureaucratic processes holding up these sorts of developments when we have the building industry holding out for more work,” Dr Smith said.

“Our next phase of reforms will also address problems identified from the Christchurch earthquakes over natural hazard management. It is unsatisfactory that new subdivisions were approved in Christchurch without any consideration of known liquefaction risks. A new requirement will be for councils to consider natural hazard risks like earthquakes.

“We also want to simplify the plan making process as it is too slow and cumbersome. Auckland will not prosper if, as predicted under the current Act, it takes 15 years to complete a new Unitary Resource Management Plan for the city. These changes will include simplifying the planning processes of the Resource Management, Land Transport and Local Government Acts as well as tighter timeframes for plan making.

“Our plans for a second substantive phase of changes to the Resource Management Act contrast with Labour who has no ideas for reform and accepts the status quo as acceptable. New Zealand cannot afford to ignore the real problems the RMA causes for those wanting to invest and create jobs.”

Dr Smith said that a second Resource Management Amendment Bill containing National’s latest proposals for reform would be introduced to Parliament in 2012 if National is re-elected on 26 November.

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