Differing Conceptions of Environmental Democracy in New Zealand Resource Management Law
Warnock, Ceri Ailsa
Present proposals for law reform in NZ would shift the balance towards greater ministerial decision-making in environmental management and are serving to highlight a tension in the law between competing manifestations of democracy. Principles developed in environmental law tend to promote public participation in decision-making through forms of “participatory” or “deliberative democracy”, whereas underlying common law doctrine can reinforce conceptions of “representative democracy” by isolating ministerial decision-making from public participation. This article explains and explores how divergent legal principles and doctrine can impact public participation and pull in different directions by considering the changes proposed by the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (NZ). Fundamentally, this article concludes that this tension in the law is problematic and should be explicitly acknowledged and addressed within the present debate and any future debates concerning environmental decision-making.
Keywords: Resource management law; Environmental law; New Zealand
Research Type: Journal Article