Government cannot see the Forest for the Trees

Far from ‘streamlining and simplifying’, the Government’s Resource Management Act (RMA) reforms will mean more bureaucracy and skyrocketing costs for local councils and ratepayers.

“The Government wants to eliminate protection for trees by making it too expensive to protect them,” Green Party Auckland MP Keith Locke said today.

The proposed law change means that every council will have to individually list each tree it wants to protect in its council plan, rather than protecting them in groups.

“Asking the Auckland Councils to identify each individual tree they want protected is outrageous. This is not simplification in any sense of the word.

“Our beautiful Pohutakawa Coast will fall prey to the chainsaw and a national treasure will be lost.”

A spokesman for Environment Minister Nick Smith said the changes were intended to make councils focus on which trees needed protection.

“The Minister is so focused on the trees that he cannot see the forest of red tape that he is creating,” Mr Locke said.

Currently, the Auckland City Council District Plan has 33 pages identifying approximately 750 individual trees, but covers tens of thousands more with just a few paragraphs.

“Is the Minister calling on local councils to add thousands of pages to their District Plans in the interest of streamlining and simplifying? Where is the Minister for Local Government on this issue, the Hon Rodney Hide?,” Mr Locke asked.

“Aucklanders of all political stripes should make the Government understand that taking away local control of a local resource is unacceptable.”

For a taste of what is to come, see Auckland City’s Schedule of Notable Trees:

To see the existing reasonable protection within Auckland City’s District Plan, (page 7):