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Comments on contaminated sites misleading

18 May 2005

Comments on contaminated sites misleading

Recent comments in the media on how the Resource Management and Electricity Legislation Amendment Bill addresses liability for contaminated sites are misleading, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

The focus of this section of the Bill is not on liability, but on management of contaminated sites.

"Our purpose is to ensure that 'contaminated land is identified and managed to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse affects on the environment'," Marian Hobbs said. "That does not imply that councils are liable for contaminated land, but that they need to 'manage' the problem."

Local government sought clarification of contaminated site management – and the government is simply responding to that request through the bill. Marian Hobbs said councils had been fully consulted on this approach.

"There was concern that the proposed wording in the RMELA Bill could have had serious financial implications for regional councils. This was certainly not the intention of the bill and we are working through submissions with the select committee to address those concerns," Marian Hobbs added.

"We are providing councils with the tools they need to address the issue of contaminated land and to ensure sustainable land practice in future. This will include the development of national standards to provide further clarity for councils about what remediation may be necessary."

The government is also tackling the problem directly through cleaning up contaminated sites.

"Where historic contamination is considered a significant risk, we're working with councils and the community to fix it," the minister said.

"We are directly managing the clean-up of the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company site at Mapua and we are providing $1 million annually to regional councils throughout New Zealand to clean-up sites through the Contaminated Sites Remediation fund."


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