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Forest and Bird: National’s environment policy not enough

National’s environment policy does not go far enough

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird today welcomed the increased focus of the National Party’s environment policy on oceans and marine policy.

But Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said other National party policies, such as accelerated deep sea oil and gas exploration continue to pose a threat to our oceans.

The National Party’s policy, released today, says that a National-led government would pass new marine reserves legislation, and that marine and oceans policy would be a major focus of a second term in government.

The Marine Reserves Bill currently before Parliament has been on hold for nearly a decade.

“Forest & Bird welcomes the general intention to focus on marine policy, and to revive the marine reserves legislation, and extend its application into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” Kevin Hackwell said.

“But it will be necessary to see the detail of the new proposals to know how good this will be for the management of our marine environment.”

Legislation introduced this year to control developments in the seas of our EEZ out to 200 nautical miles does not provide the same environmental controls as the Resource Management Act, which applies to land and territorial waters extending to 12 nautical miles from shore.

“This legislation is an inadequate response to the threat posed by deep sea offshore drilling, which is being promoted by the National Party,” he said.

The policy also promises a continued focus on improving freshwater quality. Forest & Bird welcomed plans to rank our dirtiest and cleanest rivers and lakes in a national database. National will require water takes to be measured, and is funding clean-ups of nationally significant rivers and lakes, such as Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).

But Kevin Hackwell added that National was also supporting dairy intensification with millions of dollars of new subsidies for irrigation that is certain to lead to more freshwater degradation.

“With both its water and emissions trading policies, National is putting the burden of cleaning up our environment on to taxpayers, rather than polluters,” he said.

“The effect of good environmental policies can be too easily outweighed by the bad ones.”

ENDS

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