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Labour's environment policy scores a bare pass


18 July 2002 - Wellington

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Labour's environment policy scores a bare pass, but the conservation policy is much better


Labour's environment policy is long on generalities but short on specifics, however, the conservation policy is much better, says Forest and Bird.

Society Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber, contrasted Labour's environment and conservation policies. "The conservation policy has a clear vision for the protection of New Zealand's biodiversity and a range of commitments that will make a difference."

"We welcome the commitments in the conservation policy to continue removing the pests off offshore islands, including Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), and to better protect conservation land from mining."

"Forest and Bird welcomes Labour's commitment to an Oceans policy, but is disappointed there are no commitments to deal with the problems that exist in the short term. For example mineral activity can occur on seamounts without a public process or clear environmental assessment procedures."

"Any Oceans Policy needs to sort out the failure to manage fisheries sustainably and reduce the impacts of fishing on marine mammals, seabirds and other marine life."

Mr Weeber said Forest and Bird welcomed the commitment to a sustainable development strategy but it was a pity the draft strategy was not released prior to the election. "Any strategy needs to set out a clear vision for New Zealand's development, one that builds on the environment and recognises that a healthy environment is essential to New Zealand's future."

Mt Weeber said Labour should be clear on what is meant by a 'review of environmental administration and decision-making'. "We hope that this means a commitment to an environmental review office for local government or the creation of an environmental protection agency."

Mr Weeber welcomed the initiative to develop national water standards and hoped that there was a commitment to an early introduction of these standards. Water quality, for example, has got worse over the last 10 years and national standards are long overdue."

"On the Resource Management Act, Labour should state whether they intend to progress their controversial proposals to introduce limited notification on resource consents and thus eliminate the public's right to be involved in some resource management issues."

Mr Weeber said Labour's commitment to complete the development of a national policy statement on indigenous biodiversity under the Resource Management Act was warmly welcomed. As is the commitment to ensure the Act remains an effective tool for the protection of conservation values on private land. However, to be effective, the national policy statement has to set a clear direction and it was disappointing that the policy did not specify this.

The commitment to ensure that there is sufficient funding for weed and integrated pest control together with ongoing funding of the Biodiversity Strategy is welcomed. We hope this means an early review of the funding for the Biodiversity Strategy, which is inadequate to turn the tide of biodiversity loss.

Mr Weeber said the proposal for triple bottom line reporting by central and local government agencies is welcomed but needs to be strengthened.

ends

Barry Weeber Senior Researcher Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society PO Box 631 Wellington New Zealand Phone 64-4-385-7374 Fax 64-4-385-7373 www.forest-bird.org.nz

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