Thursday, 25 January 2007

Yet another example of why the Environment Court needs to be ditched

Recent media reports have looked at how the cost of property ownership has put owning a home out of reach for many New Zealanders. The reality is there is high demand for too few properties, but red tape here causes huge delays for developers.

New Zealand is ranked 75th in the world in terms of total Land Area (out of 232 countries). That's slightly larger than the United Kingdom (including outlay territories for both countries), which comes in at #79.

However when ranked by Population, New Zealand sits at #122 (with a little over 4.1 million people) while the slightly smaller UK comes in #25 (with 60.5 million people). Why then are property prices so high here, when there is so much empty land around?

One big reason is the so-called Environment Court and the Resource Management Act. Both are strangling development and progress in New Zealand, and both need to be abolished now. They are anti Property Rights.
The Otago Daily Times newspaper today reports that two appeals have been lodged in the Environment Court, against a 15-unit residential apartment complex planned for the Oamaru Harbour in North Otago.

The Comorants on Waterfront redevelopment was granted resource consent by the Waitaki District Council last month (after considering 18 submissions on the proposal, most against).

The two groups holding up the apartment development are the Whitestone Civic Trust and the New Zealand Historic Place Trust, which is trying to get Oamaru Port nominated for World Heritage status.

A free-thinking, progressive Government would abolish the Resource Management Court and its trusty sidekick the Environment Court. Developers and businesses could then grow and invest in this country, without wasting time, money, and resources fighting pointless bureaucracy and red tape.

Then we can look at changing our attitude to immigration, and encourage more skilled workers to move to here. New Zealand needs strong growth to help turn our low wage economy into one that rewards hard work and individual responsibility, but is still internationally competitive.

* This old NZ Herald column by Auckland architect Peter Cresswell has some compelling arguments on why the RMA should be abolished

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