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SOE's pressure thwarts RMA, discourages scientists

8 July 2005

SOE's pressure thwarts RMA, discourages young scientists

It is just not on for a State-Owned Enterprise to be trying to prevent evidence it doesn't like being heard at the Environment Court, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Forest and Bird has asked the Government to investigate the withdrawal of a Landcare Research scientist as an expert witness at a hearing over the Cypress coal mine after Solid Energy objected.

"This case has potentially serious implications for the Resource Management Act's protection of the environment," Ms Fitzsimons says

"The proper functioning of the RMA relies on Environment Court Judges hearing all the evidence.

"It is outrageous that a state-owned company, which has an obligation under its legislation to 'exhibit a sense of social responsibility', should conspire to thwart the proper functioning of the RMA and the courts.

"If some of the facts in the Cypress case were not heard, the judge cannot be expected to have properly considered whether or not the wetland at the site could be successfully rehabilitated, which was a key consideration in granting the consent.

"This case is also indicative of a wider issue. The public is losing confidence in the independence of scientists, which along with their difficult working conditions, has led the Association of Scientists to say that young people are increasingly turning their backs on choosing science as a career. Clearly, the future of research in New Zealand is being put at risk by cases such as this," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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