No more blankets for trees - 21st Dec 2012

The Resource Management Reform Bill has been introduced to Parliament and passed its first reading on December 11, 2012. The Bill will see changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA), allowing protection only of specific trees mentioned in district plans. So-called ‘blanket’ tree protection, where any tree over a certain height or trunk diameter was protected, will be a thing of the past.

The aim of the Resource Management Reform Bill is to amend the RMA and various Local Government Acts to deliver 'some fast and discrete improvements' to the consenting regime and provide further powers to make regulations, and make ‘technical and operational change’.

While in principle removing some of the bureaucratic delays and complexity may seem desirable, it leaves those that can’t speak for themselves i.e. trees, vulnerable.

Technical changes to the RMA include clarifying that a tree protection rule can only apply to a tree or group of trees that is specifically identified in a schedule to a plan by street address or legal description of the land, and that a group of trees means a cluster, grove, or line of trees that are located on the same or adjacent allotments identified by precise location.

What can you do to help?

Help your local council by identifying and informing them of trees and/or groups of trees that are worthy of protection.

From the first reading it progresses to ‘Select Committee’ before going back to the ‘House’ for a Second reading – this process is expected to be completed early in 2013.

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