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Home arrow Articles by Topic arrow Environmental Planning arrow Coastal Policy Issues Backgrounder
Coastal Policy Issues Backgrounder PDF Print
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Articles - Environmental Planning
Written by Philip Woollaston   
Friday, 07 May 2010
Why have I published the report?
Basically because I believe the issues are too important to ignore. It was for that reason that I gave up many hundreds of hours of my time to take part in the Board of Inquiry hearings. For the same reason hundreds of people spent time and money preparing and presenting submissions and successive governments spent taxpayer funds on hearing them.

After many months of frustrating silence the Minister of Conservation (Insight, Radio NZ, May 2nd) gave a strong indication that she is dismissing the Board’s report out of hand. She (and the government) have a right to accept or reject the recommendations - but they must follow a prescribed process. That process is clearly set out in section 52 of the RMA and requires the Minister to consider the report and publicly notify it as well as her decisions on it. The people who made submissions on the original proposal and the taxpayers who paid for the inquiry deserve no less.

The Minister of Conservation has pointed out that the review started under the last government and suggested (‘Insight’ May 2nd) that this is about policy differences (“different philosophies”) between National and Labour. Isn’t a new government entitled to change policies?
Certainly it is, though it is disingenuous to suggest that the Board of Inquiry was engaged in producing political party policy. The Board’s report is a distillation of hundreds of submissions made by people of all sorts of political persuasions, and guided by the purpose of the RMA and the Matters of National Importance set out in sections 5 and 6 of that Act. The Minister doesn’t have to accept the recommendations in the report, but she is bound by section 52 (3) of the RMA to publish the report and to provide every submitter with a summary of its recommendations and her decisions on them.

Did you consult with other members of the Board about releasing the report?
The decision was mine alone and it would not be fair to drag others into it. I have told other members of the board that I am very unhappy with the way the report has been portrayed by the Minister and the refusal to release it, but that is all. I will email the other members to tell them of my actions as soon as I have published it.

Why do I think the government has sat on the report – what don’t they like about it?
That is really for the government to say, but it seems from the Minister’s comments on ‘Insight’ that she favours more development of the coast and sees the recommended Coastal Policy Statement as standing in the way of that.

Doesn’t the Minister have a point when she says (Insight again): “We’re in times of somewhat straightened conditions. Is it the best use of taxpayers’ money to buy some coastal land or is it better to put it into Health and Education ...”

It is a total red herring. The report contains nothing about buying land or about government expenditure.

It is a total red herring. The report contains nothing about buying land or about government expenditure. The NZCPS does not deal with ownership of land at all. It is entirely about planning – about the things that local and regional councils must bear in mind when making their decisions.

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