Slashed levels of funding and tight rules around access to a legal assistance fund are blocking conservation groups from a fair hearing on environmental issues, say the Greens.
Information released by the Ministry for the Environment shows the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund has massively underspent, and after a slight trend upwards since 2010, has had $445,000 slashed from its budget since the 2013-14 financial year.
The fund helps community groups such as residents associations and Forest and Bird to participate in major environmental decisions, under the Resource Management Act.
This is de facto taxpayer funding of environmental lobby groups. There should be no legal aid at all. If an environmental group wants to take someone to court, they should use their own funds to do so, not my taxes.