Politics | Iwi

Council-iwi link needed for fast track comfort

Waikato Regional Council co-chair Tipa Mahuta says iwi need to have a good understanding of the Resource Management Act and good relations with local government if they are to respond the the coalition’s Fast Track Planning Bill.

RMA Minister Minister Chris Bishop and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones have introduced the Bill, which will put consenting power for major infrastructure and development projects in the hands of a small group of ministers.

Mahuta says while iwi may be nervous about what’s coming, preparation will be key to either promote projects or oppose them.

“The processes around the RMA rely on council-based behaviours so, if you are an iwi where all that has been whakarite over the short settlement time, you might feel comfortable you will be one, let into the conversation early, enabled with all the information.

“So if the council has got that right and you’re a post-settlement iwi, you might feel confident and lead the conversation early, enabled with all the information, therefore you arrive at fast tracking very well prepared. If you don’t have those relationships you might be nervous about fast tracking because there is so much ambiquity in environmental legislation,” Mahuta says.

To access the fast-track approvals process, project owners would need to apply to the joint Ministers. A project would then be referred to an expert panel to assess the project and make a recommendation to the joint ministers, who would then determine whether the approvals should be granted or declined.

The environment select committee is currently seeking public submissions on the bill.

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