24 August 2011
Media Release: EDS welcomes new legislation for the Exclusive Economic Zone
The Environmental Defence Society has welcomed the introduction today of new legislation to govern activities in New Zealand's exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf.
The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill puts in place an effective consenting process for oil and gas exploration, deep sea aquaculture and marine energy projects.
"This bill follows on from an extensive analysis of the deficiencies of the existing law by EDS that was published last year. In our view the increasing interest in development activities in our oceans warranted a new regime to manage the environmental effects of those activities," said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.
"The bill gives new functions to the Environmental Protection Authority which will be responsible for consenting, monitoring and enforcement. EDS would like to see the EPA recruit specialists in oceans management to hear consent applications.
"The bill establishes a framework for regulations that will classify activities as permitted, discretionary or prohibited. If the regulatory settings are right, this should mean that activities that carry significant and unacceptable environmental risks would not get consent.
"The bill sets out decision-making criteria that include recognising biological values and requires decision-makers to take a precautionary approach when information is limited.
"Any significant proposals will be subject to full public hearings.
"The bill is set to become law in July 2012.
In the interim there are some temporary new measures that have been put in place. These tighten the present regime but are still very much stop-gap in nature. We would like to see higher impact projects deferred until the new regime is in place. This is something we would encourage project implementers to think about carefully.
"The bill is being referred to a select committee and EDS looks forward to examining the proposal in more detail and presenting submissions," Mr Taylor concluded.