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Environmental Law Update: Local Government Select Committee reports back on EEZ Bill
The Local Government Select Committee recently released its report on the Exclusive Economic and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill. If enacted, the Bill will establish an environmental management regime for New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The final enactment will be supplemented by a set of regulations setting up a consenting regime analogous to the RMA. The Environmental Protection Authority will be responsible for the consenting, monitoring, and enforcement functions under the Bill.

The Committee was unable to agree that the Bill be passed, however, key amendments made to the Bill include:
  • Allowing members of the public to now question a party or witness at an application hearing with leave of the EPA.
  • Allowing any person to apply to the Environment Court for an enforcement order.
  • Extending the transitional period for existing activities that will require a marine consent under the Act. This will provide regulatory certainty for developers planning offshore exploration for the 2012/2013 summer.
  • Providing for the use of abatement notices similar to those issued under the RMA.
  • Providing additional clarity regarding the use of adaptive management conditions.
The Committee has retained the proposal for the three categories of marine consents in its report.
The full copy of the report can be found here.

Environmental Law Update: Land and Water Forum release second report
The Government recently released the second report of the Land and Water Forum.

Following the Forum’s initial report, A Fresh Start for Freshwater, the second, entitled Setting Limits for Water Quality and Quantity: Freshwater Policy and Plan Making Through Collaboration recomends a national framework within which Regional Councils will work with their communities and iwi to set freshwater objectives and develop limits for its use. A full copy of the report can be found here.

The Report lists 38 recommendations to the Government. It outlines a consistent and transparent process for setting objectives and limits, that will lead to effective and enduring outcomes, including greater certainty for investment and development. A notable recommendation is a call for environmental bottom lines to be set for the state of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and aquifers. 

Comprised of a wide range of industry groups, NGOs, iwi, scientists and other organisations with a stake in freshwater and land management the Land and Water Forum is joined by central and local government observers. As an independent body it is tasked with providing the Government with a consensus view on how the management of New Zealand’s freshwater resources can be improved. A third report to the Government, dealing with ways of managing resources within limits, is due later this year.

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