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Windblown timber Bill passed

Windblown timber Bill passed


The passing of the West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill by 65 to 51 votes is a victory for common sense that will enable valuable native timber felled in Cyclone Ita to be recovered and used, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“New Zealand is not such a wealthy country that we can leave thousands of tonnes of valuable windblown timber to rot. This law will enable salvage of the felled timber that will provide welcome opportunities for jobs and economic activity on the West Coast, and earn extra revenue for the Department of Conservation,” Dr Smith says.

“We have taken a balanced approach in excluding the most valued conservation areas on the West Coast like World Heritage Areas, national parks and ecological areas. The law requires that the Director-General of Conservation, in granting authorisations to remove the timber, ensures the environmental impacts are minimised and that all practical steps are taken to ensure that the work is carried out safely.

“I acknowledge and appreciate the support of the United Future and Māori Parties. The decision of two Labour MPs to vote against their party shows the deep divisions within Labour over natural resource issues. These splits in Labour follow other contradictions over oil and gas exploration in Taranaki this week and the departure of Shane Jones because of their anti-development policies.

“The next step will be for the Department to advertise for Expressions of Interest. There have already been a number of enquiries received from saw millers on the West Coast. The passage of this Bill now enables the timber industry to put together detailed plans on salvaging this valuable wood.

“This law quite deliberately expires in 2019 because it would not be appropriate to make permanent changes to the Conservation Act from this shortened parliamentary process. Research will be commissioned on how timber recovery impacts on natural forest recovery and will inform a longer-term decision on whether it is appropriate to salvage windblown timber in future storm events.

“It is a tragedy that so much forest has been wrecked by Cyclone Ita but there is no good in leaving the wood to rot. This legislation reflects the National-led Government’s pragmatic, ‘blue-green’ approach where we use our natural resources in a common sense way to create wealth and jobs for New Zealand.”

ends

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