Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wind vs the RMA

Not PC asks whether the proponents of the RMA will

be just as happy with the RMA when also closes down proposals for electricity generation by wind turbine?

Several windfarm projects have been challenged under the RMA. Genesis's 19 MW Awhitu project was initially rejected, while plans to further expand windfarms in the Tararua ranges are exciting local opposition. But this is all part of the process. Some of these projects may very well fail, but others will succeed - wind farms generally enjoy significant public support (far higher than other forms of energy generation).

But addressing PC's question, my answer is "yes". The RMA exists in part to determine the property rights of existing users (such as the right to silence or to an unimpeded vista) and to balance these against the rights of developers and benefits of development. And where development is destructive of existing rights (and cannot either buy off those rights-holders or show a clear benefit to the community which far outweighs the damage done), then I have no problem with it not going ahead.

Opposition to the RMA is generally founded on a denial of existing rights - or rather, as it tends to be linked to the idea of dealing with all problems via the courts, a denial of rights to those that cannot afford lawyers (rich NIMBYs, however, get to keep right on going). This is yet another example of the difference between their stunted version of freedom and that promoted by the left. Mechanisms to protect rights must be available to all, regardless of means. We do this to protect other rights - we provide police and public prosecutors to ensure that justice for crimes against persons is available to all, not just those able to afford it - and the same principle applies here.


I asked on a previous legislation for those who advocate the use of common law to control development to tell us about an (urban) environment where this is succesfully done. I haven't had an answer.

Having said that, we probably need a national level to development policy - there are various things, like generating and distributing power, where decisions that get made at a local level don't deliver for the public interest of the whole nation.

Posted by Rich : 5/18/2005 01:45:00 PM


The only example I'm aware of where common law is used to control urban development is in most modern US subdivisions.

To buy into the new suburb you must accept, and pass on to anyone who ever buys your property, a contract. The contract will restrict what you can do with the property

A typical example would include all of the following (and much more):
* You can't paint your house in any but the approved colours
* You can't park cars on your front lawn.
* You can't leave your garage doors sitting open.
* Front hedges and front fences are forbidden.
* Your front garden must be maintained in a 'tidy' manner, as determined by the local neighbourhood committee.
* A house shall be built on your property within 1 yr, it shall cost a minimum of $X to build, and it shall be built this particular architectural styles.
* Etc, etc.

The results are incredibly intrusive and restrictive of what you can do with your property. But it's all about keeping up your neighbours property values by looking 'nice' and inoffensive - and lacking decent zoning laws it's the response that the free market has kicked up.

Why the libertarianz think that sort of thing is a good idea is utterly beyond me.

Posted by Icehawk : 5/18/2005 03:27:00 PM

"the right to silence or to an unimpeded vista"
Your property title entitles you to neither, RMA or no RMA. When you buy an apartment in Auckland, the Council will allow another tower block to be built only metres from your own balcony and blocking the view you erroneously thought you bought too. And as for the silence? Well, the advice you get is: don't live in the city.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 5/18/2005 04:17:00 PM

Uroskin: not in inner-city Auckland, no. But if you live somewhere quiet, then its quite proper to consider the noise effects of your neighbours.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/18/2005 06:43:00 PM

Hi there. I've replied to a few recent comments on my blog today, but rest assured I will come back here later on to answer the specific queries you've all raised.

At this stage let me just say that there are a few misunderstindings about the mechanisms of voluntary convenants, the Coming to the Nuisance doctrine and the like that I will be addressing.



Posted by Peter Cresswell : 5/19/2005 12:15:00 PM