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RMA review could unlock forest potential

31 Mar 2004

Forest owners hope the government's Resource Management Act review will lead to a lowering of barriers to investment in wood processing.

"The review has to be good news," says NZ Forest Owners Association president Peter Berg.

"The Act has caused all sorts of difficulties for investors in forestry and in particular, wood processing. We have raised our concerns about this with government and ministers on several occasions."

Mr Berg said the Act's principles of protecting and sustaining the environment made good sense. The industry's concerns were related to the implementation of those principles.

"We share with government the goal that 50 per cent of the increase in the log harvest should be processed in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the RMA is deterring some of the investment we need to achieve our goal."

The industry's main concerns relate to the time and cost involved in getting consents from district and regional councils, even for activities which are normal aspects of forest management like planting, harvesting and roading.

"With major developments, such as for wood processing, these delays and costs can spiral out of control. Objectors who only have a peripheral interest in a proposal are a major cause of delays.

"Also, there is no provision in the Act for decisions made in one region to be accepted as a precedent in another region. Issues have to be litigated over and over again," Mr Berg said.

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NZFOA president, Peter Berg: Tel 09 309 5049 or 021 421 291

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