Archive | Environmental Defence Society

Offshore exploration to be non-notified, which environmental group says raises danger

Environment Minister Amy Adams said yesterday activities involved in offshore exploratory drilling for oil & gas would be classified as non-notified discretionary under new Exclusive Economic Zone & Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act regulations, effective from today.

Ms Adams said: “The non-notified discretionary classification is the pragmatic option for exploratory drilling, and will provide a level of regulation proportionate to its effects. This is part of the National-led government’s overhaul of the laws & regulations governing the oil & gas industry.

“The classification will provide effective oversight & environmental safeguards without burdening industry with excessive costs & timeframes.”

As part of the marine consent application, operators must submit an impact assessment that identifies impacts on the environment & existing interests.

Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said the minister was saying, ‘Trust us – we know what we’re doing.’

However, he said: “The approach creates a real possibility of regulatory capture by the industry, one of the factors that a presidential inquiry found contributed to the disastrous Deepwater Horizons spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Minister for the Environment has said the level of regulation is ‘proportionate to the effects’. This assertion is risible: the consequences of a spill in New Zealand’s oceans are enormous and would be devastating to our seabirds, marine mammals, fisheries & coastline.

“This light-touch regulation is clearly disproportionate to the potential environmental effects. The minister is putting our marine ecosystems at unwarranted risk by having a closed-shop consenting process. This is not what New Zealanders who support deep-sea drilling expected. Several opinion polls have shown that support for the industry is conditional on best practice oversight.”

Attribution: Ministerial & EDS releases.

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Taylor complains board of inquiry process stacked against opponents

The Tukituki River in Hawke’s Bay.

The Tukituki River in Hawke’s Bay.

The Environmental Defence Society argued yesterday the process for a board of inquiry to hear a Hawke’s Bay plan change was stacked heavily against opponents.

Society chairman Gary Taylor said: “The board of inquiry process is so heavily stacked against the interests of submitters, it fails the fundamental requirements of fairness.”

The proposed plan change is for the Tukituki River and a largescale irrigation dam designed to facilitate land use intensification, including horticulture & dairying.

Mr Taylor said: “Because Government entities are not participating in the hearing, the burden of testing the applicant’s arguments has fallen on the voluntary sector. Engaging in the process is, however, extremely challenging.

“The applicant has had years to prepare its case and has produced an overwhelming amount of highly technical evidence that submitters had 4 weeks to evaluate & submit on. Then the applicant prepared 46 briefs of evidence that were posted on the Environmental Protection Authority’s website, and submitters were given just 4 weeks to submit evidence in response.

“These timelines have put enormous & unreasonable pressure on submitters. It gets worse. There are also burdensome administrative requirements, with formal requests needing to be filed to do anything. The Environmental Protection Authority administrators are also firing off directions changing set dates and imposing fresh obligations on a daily basis. It is a challenge just keeping up with them.

“Moreover, it is clear from the evidence that a lot of this case hinges on freshwater science. But the ministers for the environment & conservation, who appointed the board, failed to include a freshwater specialist. And there’s no indication yet that the board has even appointed science advisors.

“Unprecedented in my experience is the fact that experts have been refused access to the site of the proposed dam and to key information relied upon by the applicant. This is deeply prejudicial. The board has acknowledged this by allowing supplementary evidence to be filed later, but that is suboptimal.

“The process in this case is fundamentally flawed, the timeframes unrealistic and the administration of it insensitive to constraints on submitters. Our confidence in getting a fair go has been heavily compromised.

“It is a process that seems designed to facilitate the applicant getting consents and the plan change getting approved unchanged. It is a process that appears designed to implement the Government’s growth agenda at all costs – and to ride roughshod over serious & legitimate public interest & environmental concerns.

“I think the Government needs to review the process for these called-in cases and create a fairer & more workable framework. This is so fast, so demanding & so unfair that it has to stop. It is just ridiculous.

“We think the board also needs to have another look at the timeframe it has available. 9 months for a case of this size & complexity is unrealistic. The board should ask the minister for more time now and establish a workable & fair process as soon as possible.”

The 2-part Tukituki catchment proposal has been rated a proposal of national significance, and the ministers directed it go to an independent board of inquiry on 5 June. One part is the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Investment Co’s application for resource consents and a notice of requirement for the Ruataniwha water storage scheme. The other is the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s proposed plan change 6, which covers a suite of changes to rules for land & water management.

Link: Tukituki catchment proposal

Attribution: Company release.

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Environmental Defence Society produces landscape & coastal guides, plans workshops

Published: 30 August 2005

The Environmental Defence Society has prepared guides on landscape protection & coastal development and will run workshops on them in September in Auckland, Hamilton & Christchurch.

The society said the landscape protection guide contained information on Resource Management Act provisions & courts’ interpretation, how valued landscapes can be identified, how planning provisions can be developed to ensure their protection, how developments can be designed to protect landscape values and opportunities for involvement in resource management processes for people wishing to obtain better protection for landscapes.

It said the coastal development guide contained information on the important values of the coast, the types of coastal development which are occurring and their impacts, the provisions of the Resource Management Act relevant to coastal development, key court decisions, elements of best practice planning & design for coastal development and opportunities to influence coastal development.

Workshop venues:

Auckland, Wednesday 14 September at 5-6.30pm, Auckland Regional Council chamber; Christchurch, Wednesday 21 September at 5-6.30pm, Environment Canterbury’s Waiau Theatrette; Hamilton, Monday 26 September at 5-6.30pm, Environment Waikato council chamber.

Website: Environmental Defence Society


If you want to comment on this story, write to the BD Central Discussion forum or send an email to [email protected].

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One win, one loss for developments given EDS green tick support

Published: 4 April 2005

One coastal development which the Environmental Defence Society gave its environmental tick has been granted resource consent but another has been turned down.

The society announced its first 2 environmental tick awards at the NZ Coastal Conference last August.

The one which has gained consent is the Mountain Landing subdivision in the Bay of Islands, a 338ha development by Britomart redeveloper Peter Cooper.

The other was for New York financier turned New Zealand golfcourse developer Julian Robertson’s Cape Kidnappers Station Ltd, for integrating the planned Cape Kidnappers Lodge into the environment above the gannet sanctuary at the southern tip of Hawke Bay.

The Environmental Defence Society said it succeeded in negotiating a number of changes to the Mountain Landing proposal before the Far North District Council granted consent, including a reduction in lot numbers, relocation of several house sites to less prominent positions, getting a large public reserve, better design guidelines & perpetual covenants prohibiting further subdivision.

“We think the development is an example of best practice: if a coastal site is suitable for subdivision, then this is how to go about it,” the society said in its latest newsletter.

The society gave evidence supporting Mr Robertson’s Cape Kidnappers proposal but it was turned down in the Environment Court.

The society’s review team concluded adverse effects would be minimal and ecological gains would be significant through better management of the rest of the site.

Earlier story:

9 August 2004: Environmental Defence Society awards 2 Green Ticks

Website: Environmental Defence Society

If you want to comment on this story, write to the BD Central Discussion forum or send an email to [email protected].

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First of 4 Environmental Defence Society guides nears completion

Published: 4 April 2005

The Environmental Defence Society is close to completing its Landscape planning guide for peri-urban & rural areas, designed to for district councils but also expected to be of interest to developers & community activists.

The society said the publication focused on applying a strategic approach to landscape planning and had been extensively peer reviewed.

The society is also revising its Community guide to the Resource Management Act 1991, subject to amendments to the act being finalised, and is preparing best-practice guides on landscape protection & coastal development.

Website: Environmental Defence Society

If you want to comment on this story, write to the BD Central Discussion forum or send an email to [email protected].

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Environmental Defence Society awards 2 Green Ticks

The Environmental Defence Society has created a coastal development certification scheme aimed at protecting New Zealand’s coastline by working closely with responsible developers to ensure better outcomes.

The society has made its first 2 EDS Green Tick awards to Britomart redeveloper Peter Cooper for a 338ha Northland project which has yet to get resource consent, and to New York financier turned New Zealand golfcourse developer Julian Robertson’s Cape Kidnappers Station Ltd, for integrating the planned lodge into the environment above the gannet sanctuary at the southern tip of Hawke Bay.

“We all want to protect our coastal icons,” Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said. “Unfortunately the recently published EDS Landscape Report showed we are losing these at an unprecedented rate due to inappropriate development.

“This has come about because of a combination of inadequate legislative protection and because some developers & councils don’t have the specialist knowledge needed to get these sensitive developments right. We have called on the Government to improve legislation, but have also decided to take our own steps to help improve development practices.”

Mr Taylor said there were encouraging examples of good developments, which the society wanted to acknowledge through its EDS Green Tick.

“The initiative does not mean that EDS will stop using legal remedies to try to prevent bad development or to get improved protection for the coast in council plans. That will continue.

“But what we are saying is that where development is acceptable, we need to lift the bar in terms of quality. Litigation is not the only way of doing that.”

Mr Cooper’s Northland development is the Mountain Landing project in the Bay of Islands.

“This development, which has yet to obtain resource consent, includes extensive revegetation planting of native plants, the restoration of wetlands, the creation of public reserves, protection of historic sites, careful siting of dwellings, an acceptable density of development and the enhancement of foreshore access for local iwi. Most importantly, the landowner has agreed that it will be a one-off subdivision with binding covenants.

“It is a stunning example of how the coast can be developed and is a model for others to follow.”

The Cape Kidnappers award, for the planned resort & overall development, was handed out at the NZ Coastal Conference in Auckland on Friday.

Mr Taylor said the planned lodge would be well integrated into the landscape, notwithstanding the sensitivity of the location. “The buildings will use environmentally sensitive materials and will be located & designed so they cannot be seen from most viewpoints.”

Mr Robertson said the golfcourse above the cape – his 2nd, after the Kauri Cliffs course above Matauri Bay in Northland – showed the standard that could be achieved.

Mr Taylor said a crucial factor in the Environmental Defence Society’s evaluation was the landowner’s agreement to work constructively with the society to prepare a strategic plan for the entire 2000ha property.

“Mr Robertson has agreed to evaluate a number of our recommendations, which include retiring large areas from farming, extensive native revegetation and maintaining high standards of environmental outcomes across the property.”

The Environmental Defence Society is an environmental advocacy organisation. It pursues issues that may have national impact, or have the potential to set either precedents or policy.

Websites: Environmental Defence Society

Cape Kidnappers

Kauri Cliffs

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