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Environment

The fast-track bill? Slow-track led nowhere

There has been a march on Parliament recently with the demonstrators clearly upset with the Government’s intention to ‘fast track’ some applications for approval to begin new developments. The problem as the demonstrators see it, is that the ‘fast track’ may lead to damage to the environment.
 |  Malcolm Campbell  | 

These people marching most likely in good faith, have missed the crux of the matter.

The environment has already suffered major damage and ‘slow tracking’ with lengthy debates on pros and cons of certain developments, have done not a thing to arrest damage to the environment.

Last week’s issue of The Informer details a massive amount of deliberation about the Waikato–Waipa River systems, allowing an eighty-year time frame for improvement and demonstrated the futility of endless talk when ultimately somebody has to do something (p: 10).

Eventually, somebody must climb out of bed and take action. Who is this person?  It is all very well to be in an office in some fantasy land, theorising on saving the environment as long as someone, anyone, is willing to carry out the theoretical instructions.

Already some individual property owners, very worried about compliance costs and more and more controls, are quietly downsizing their operations in order to live a happier stress-free life. How can this be good for the economy?

To heal the damage already caused by the very people claiming to be environmental custodians, attitudes need to change at once.

In one of these items the views of Australian, Victorian Churchill Fellow, Max Fehring, made it quite clear that people have to be given the freedom to decide what actions are needed in relation to their district before any ‘plan’ is drawn up, not afterwards, submitting on what council staff think is good for them.

This back to front approach began in 1980 and has gathered strength ever since, particularly since 1991, with the launch of the Resource Management Act.

The present government can in no way claim to be addressing the problem they have caused, by facilitating what they see as important, while the private investor struggles in a morass of paperwork and controls. (On file. documents running to a hundred pages to get a consent).

The government have already had one crack at speeding up the process by setting up the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor any potential serious damage from developments; yet another agency in Wellington to be fed and watered in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Innovation is sorely needed and where it comes from is of no importance.

Unfortunately, as the late Owen McShane said, the more innovative you were, the less likely you were to get a consent.

For example; for most of the year the Coromandel Peminsula receives plenty of rain which cascades down to the sea. There are now available small turbines for electricity generation. There are several types for different situations. No dam is required, some of the water flowing down the hill is diverted into a pipe and into the turbine. The energy passes through the turbine and is exhausted back into the stream with no loss in the stream flow.

Simple as can be and the good Lord evaporates the water, lifts it back into the sky, converts the vapour to rain and down the stream it comes again. This is all done for free without charging the user for the energy. Some would–be home generator entrepreneurs, although having massive amounts of water cascading away, have been refused consent to harvest the free energy. Undoubtedly, the recent cold snap highlighted the fragility of the electricity supply, with the supply only just meeting the demand. But apparently even if you are freezing and could do something about it to help yourself long term, official grid electricity is the way to go, or go without. There is another saying I am familiar with; ‘the good Lord helps those who helps themselves.

But, in this day and age, it is apparently true only if you are allowed by the authorities, who practise playing God.