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EDS draft submission on EEZ Oil bill finds flaws

EDS draft submission on EEZ Oil bill finds flaws

The Environmental Defence Society has released a comprehensive analysis of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill and is inviting feedback from the community before finalising it later this year. The analysis shows that the Bill, which creates an environmental consenting regime for offshore oil, gas and mining, is generally well conceived but needs substantial changes to make it acceptable.

"Our analysis is now posted on our website and we would welcome constructive and informed feedback on it over the next month," said EDS Policy Director Raewyn Peart.

"The Bill has some very good features including requiring all applications for marine consents to be publicly notified so members of the public can be heard. It will also be possible to spatially identify marine areas which are off limits to specific activities through regulations.

"A major flaw of the Bill is the absence of any environmental bottom lines. It allows environmental considerations to be outweighed by economic interests. Such an approach could result in environmental degradation, loss of precious biodiversity, and damage to New Zealand's international reputation.

"The Bill also does not adequately address risk, including the identification of sources of risk, how they will be managed, and what the response will be if a mishap occurs. This is of considerable concern in light of the devastating environmental impacts of the Rena disaster.

"Furthermore, in our view the Bill does not meet New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or the Convention on Biodiversity. This will be of international concern because of the significant proportion of the world's marine species including seabirds and marine mammals which are present here," concluded Ms Peart.

EDS Chairman Gary Taylor says he has received assurances that more time will be allowed beyond today's formal closing date for submissions to be made to the select committee.

"Parliament's website shows today as the closing date even though the Local Government and Environment Select Committee Clerk says submissions will continue to be received informally until the new Parliament sits. In our view he has no formal authority to do that. This is an issue the Speaker in the new Parliament needs to address.

"However we have been advised by the relevant spokespersons for National, Labour and the Greens that when the new Parliament convenes, they will support an extension of today's formal deadline to at least Christmas.

"So with the three main parties making their intentions clear, we are not filing our submission today and will take the opportunity to get feedback before filing," Mr Taylor concluded.

The draft submission can be viewed at eds.org.nz


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