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ERMA New Zealand fees and charges

The Minister for the Environment, Hon Simon Upton, has announced that the Government will subsidise the costs of public participation in applications to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA New Zealand).

ERMA New Zealand makes decisions about importing, development or release of new organisms (including genetically modified organisms) and will soon be responsible for decisions about new hazardous substances. Full cost recovery was expected to apply from January 2001 – it will now be deferred until at least 2002.

“We have heard a lot of concern expressed by industry about ERMA’s proposed fees and charges. As the hazardous substances regime is not yet in force, it is hard to assess what the full costs of processing applications will be,” the Minister said.

“However, we have decided to provide additional Crown funding to support public participation in assessing new applications. While the actual costs of preparing an application are a legitimate charge on business, it can be argued that public participation in the process is of benefit to the community and should be publicly supported,” Mr Upton said.

The Minister said that the transitional period would help the Government to get a better understanding of the true costs of the new system.

“The original decision assumed that a smooth transition to the stable operation of the new regime would be completed by 1 January 2001. However this is clearly not the case now, as we still have to start up the hazardous substances regime and transfer all substances legally in New Zealand to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act,” Mr Upton said.

“In making this decision, the Government is aware that there is a variable system of charging under the various Acts that make up the current hazardous substances regime, and in some cases no charges at all. The subsidy will mean lower charges to applicants and ease the transition to the new system.”

The Ministry for the Environment has been asked to report to Cabinet by the end of April on the effectiveness of the charging regime and whether full cost recovery should be further deferred.

“We will then make decisions about whether any additional Crown funding should be provided and what level of funding is required,” the Minister said.

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