Local councils are being asked to provide feedback on two significant bills but short timeframes over the Christmas period are being seen as a sign that central government has little interest in the views of elected members and communities.
The Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill are integral to reform of the Resource Management Act with government’s Environment Committee inviting submissions from 23 November 2022 to 30 January 2023.
Mayor of Napier Kirsten Wise is among many who are questioning the timing of the submission period.
“We have real concerns with the proposed timeline and the impact this has on local democracy,” says Mayor Wise. “It’s important our community understands that this decision is going to impede our opportunity to have our say and our community’s opportunity to engage in this process.”
The two bills have been three years in the making but now, as the finish line is in view, the final stages are being accelerated.
“The deadline set by the Environment Committee is completely unreasonable considering the size and significance of the proposed changes, and the submission period running through the Christmas shutdown period,” Mayor Wise explains. “We have also just been through an election period and across the country there are a number of new elected members who will need to come up to speed.”
“The timing of this process throws them, and the community they serve, under the bus,” Mayor Wise says. “The short time frame, and at this point in the year, is taking away our ability to engage with the community on this matter and understand their views.”
The resource management system is at the heart of how the natural environment is cared for in New Zealand, and fundamental to the management of urban development, housing supply and regional economic development.
25 November 2022
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