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ERMA's Bottomless Pit Seeks More Funding

Tuesday, April 16th, 2002

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) wants still more funding, this time to cope with the transfer of Notified Toxic Substances (NOTS) to its new register required under the 1996 Act. The NOTS register lists substances not previously identified as dangerous.

A further $7 to $9 million is required on top of the $8 million ERMA sought last November.

The Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says the funding will have to be found to overcome the congestion in the transfer process which is blocking the use of new materials and holding up innovation.

"Logjams in the process are creating major headaches for industry as some 200,000 notified 'toxic' substances are currently transferred to the coverage of the new Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act," said Garth Wyllie, an Executive Officer with EMA.

"Industrial and domestic customers are finding they can't get the latest materials. Product ranges are being depleted, and choice and innovation removed. The situation is a ridiculous case of New Zealand bureaucracy shooting itself in the foot.

"Before the new regulations took effect on July 1st last year, many thousands of notifications poured into ERMA revealing for the first time the true level of substances in the market.

"The law was enacted without appropriate analysis of the scale of the task, planning or financial risk management to understand what was needed for the regulations.

"Now both importers and manufacturers are unable to introduce new materials to the market because they have not been notified. While some of these are generically similar to products already available, others contain new and original properties.
Some products containing materials in question are able to be imported fully made up.

"ERMA has said the transfer of substances to the new register won't be completed for three to five years, with others lost completely to New Zealand users because of a lack of funding.

"Some companies will be tempted to place new products on the market illegally to retain their market position; others are weighing up whether manufacture in New Zealand is still viable, or whether to import substitutes.

"Raising compliance costs further will make the importing or manufacture of many low volume products no longer viable as the application processes under the HSNO legislation are already highly expensive.

"The HSNO law regulating hazardous substances is unique to New Zealand and is risking the competitiveness of our agriculture and other industries. For instance, it's a threat to the sort of technical innovation that profoundly assisted with winning the America's Cup and is the basis of our thriving boat building industry."

Ends

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