16 Apr 2009

Environment Court fees to rise almost ten-fold

9:08 pm on 16 April 2009

The cost of filing an appeal at the Environment Court is to rise from $55 to $500 from next month, to deter the bringing of minor cases which could waste the court's time.

The higher fee was originally mooted as part of proposed reforms to the Resource Management Act, but has been brought in under separate regulations.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the fee increase should prevent issues of little importance taking up court time.

He says the fee has remained the same for 21 years, and is still significantly less than that imposed in the High Court or District Courts.

Gary Taylor of the Environmental Defence Society says the fee rise, along with proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, will add to the hurdles facing groups when they want to take appeals to the court.

He says one of the strengths of the Resource Management Act is that people are able to get involved.

Green party co-leader Russel Norman has written to Parliament's Regulations Review Committtee, asking it to consider recommending a more reasonable fee, of between $100 and $250.

Dr Norman says a modest rise is overdue, but $500 is unreasonable and will hurt small groups.