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Did the Resource Management Act take away our own property rights?

By Malcolm Campbell.

The Resource Management Act (RMA) became law in 1991 - all 450 pages of it. There have been amendments since that time, so it is not known whether it has grown or shrunk. It is probable that most people have never even seen a copy of the Act let alone studied it. Section Five of the Act sets out the purpose of the Act in three section- 5 a, 5b, 5c. The aim is laudable; it could not read better.

Section 5a begins with word ‘Promote’ and the Oxford Dictionary states ‘promote’ as ‘help forward, assist, aid, encourage and support.’ So, ‘Promote sustainable management, development and use of natural and physical resources at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety.’

All of this whilst preserving the environment for the future generations.

Section 5b begins with Safeguarding - ‘Safeguarding the life supporting capacity of the air, water, soil and ecosystems.’

Section 5c begins with Avoiding - ‘Avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.’

In short, this is about sustainable development for your wellbeing, quality air, soil, water and the remedying of any previous damaging effects on the environment. Following this rosy preamble are another four hundred and twenty-eight sections after Section Five. A more up to date printing of the RMA may be a little different from the copy held, with amendments made to the original.

Section Nine is interesting - Restrictions on use of land. ‘No person may use any land in a manner that contravenes a rule in a District Plan or proposed plan unless the activity is (a) expressly allowed by a Resource Consent granted by the Territorial Authority responsible for the plan. The Resource Consent, depending on the activity, may involve getting a Resource Consent from both the District and the Regional Council.’

Note the word, use in the paragraph above. The word use in relation to any land means (a) Any use, erection, reconstruction, placement, alteration, extension, removal or demolition of any structure. (b) Any excavation, drilling, tunnelling or other disturbance of the land. (c) Any disturbance of the habitats of plants or animals in on or under the land. In all of the above, land includes the surface of water in any lake or river.

Please read all of the above slowly and ask yourself, is it legal to cultivate the garden, or excavate a rat’s nest under your kumaras (rats love kumaras) or dig up a rabbit burrow (disturbance of habitats of animals) unless a resource consent is obtained first?

And remember the RMA was touted as the ‘Enabling Act’.

Caption: Malcolm Campbell at home with his planes in the farm shed.

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