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“Don’t worry about that”

By Malcolm Campbell

In the previous article, the Town and Country Planning Act caused considerable anguish over how to define an economic unit, whether rural as a farm, or urban as a business. At a meeting with the then County Council, the matter was raised by Federated Farmers, and they were told by councillors in a rather gleeful manner, ‘Don’t worry about that, we have got rid of all that’. The councillors seemed oblivious to the interference caused between a willing buyer and a willing seller, apart from the serious emotional strains people suffered. How the council got rid of the policy is not known.

However, once rid of the imposed rules, The Town and Country planning Act did not appear to cause too much trouble and most people carried on as usual. This situation was not to last as toward the end of the 1980s, a move was made by Government to amalgamate Local Authorities into larger units. The Local Government Commission had a hand in this policy. The reasons cited were that there were far too many Local Authorities employing far too many people. Economies of scale could be achieved, because instead of a Borough having its own heavy equipment, for example - trucks, graders etc. and a County having similar equipment; one lot could do the required work. This theme was also cited in regard to the number of office staff employed, the number of offices, right down to the number of computers needed.

Goodbye to ‘too many local authorities’?

As a result of all this theory put forward (it was really conjecture at the time), in 1989, a major change was enacted. Almost overnight Counties, Boroughs and Catchment Boards all disappeared, to be replaced by District Councils and Regional Councils, which is the form of Local Government prevailing today. In the interim period while the new form of local government was being established, they were all busily formulating transitional plans as there were more changes in the pipeline.

Most of the Catchment Boards had been in operation for about forty years, some slightly more and some a little less, but the revised Town and Country Act was only in effect for about nine years. The Labour Government at the time was promoting and bringing forward The Resource Management Act (RMA). The reason for this act was given - it was to be an ‘enabling act’ saying that the Town and Country Act was too prescriptive and controlling.

The Labour Government was defeated in the election before the RMA was passed into law. However, the newly elected National Government passed it into law with Simon Upton being prominent in promoting environmental concerns. One of the main ‘purposes of the act’ is environmental protection.

Briefly, the RMA had only two short paragraphs describing the ‘purpose of the act’. The first was to promote sustainable development and the second to safeguard the environment. These clauses to be further examined.

Next issue: Living with the RMA begins.

Malcolm Campbell is a farmer, a scientist, a pilot, a farmer since 1951 and a friend of farmers. Home for Malcolm and his family has always been on the land in the Waikato region. He has a large farm just outside of Waihi. Through necessity, he has made a detailed and often cryptic study of the changes and developments in local government at all levels and how those changes have affected farmers and residents across the Waikato and the Coromandel. He is a pioneer in the true sense and believes that the governing of society must give people the power to improve their lives and the lives of those in their community.

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