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_______________Tena Koe Welcome! _________________



Season GreetingsECO Website

This is the virtual home of ECO. Since 1972 ECO has been the umbrella group for environment and conservation organisations in New Zealand.

This website has information about ECO and its 50+ member groups as well as news of the environment and major conservation issues in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Please look around our website to learn more about our work and access resources and links of importance.

If you need further information contact the ECO Office in Wellington.  The office is currently closed under Covid-19 level 3.

Contact ECO at this address.

Or phone 0064 4 385 7545

 

 

Current Events

 

Follow the events tab near top right of the screen for events happening near you.  Or subscribe to Tieke (with "subscribe Tieke" in the subject) to find out what is happening this week near you.

 

Volunteer with ECO - click here for opportunities

ECO Stall

 

Become a Friend of ECO - find out how and join up and support ECOs work.

 

If you are from a group you can apply to join ECO as a member organisation - find out how

 

To contact our National Office: 04 385 7545 or email us


ECO's AGM - Wellington, 29 or 30 August 2020

ECO's AGM will take place on Saturday 29 or Sunday 30 August 2020. The situation with Covid-19 means that we have not yet finalised a venue and precise timing for the meeting, but it will take place during that weekend, so please add it to your diary now. Assuming in-person attendance will be permitted, the meeting will be held in Wellington. As with our AGM last year, we will also enable remote participation by video conference.

We will circulate later, details of deadlines for submission of constitutional and other motions, and other agenda items for the AGM.

If possible, we will accompany the AGM with a webinar/seminar or conference. We invite feedback on topics for discussion and presentations, and offers of help with organising the event. To send us suggestions and/or offers of help, please email eco@eco.org.nz.

ECO Executive


ECO AGM 2019 and Workshops


ECO’s Workshops and AGM was held on Saturday 21 September 2019.  As an organisation of organisations, we want to focus on engaging with our Member Groups and Friends on future planning for ECO, to ensure that we remain relevant and effective and have appropriate capacity for our work. 

Thanks to all the groups who attended the AGM and workshops and helped with ideas for planning forward for ECO.

One of the issues is the updating of the website.

 

 

RMA Covid Bill Being Fast-tracked

The Resource Management Act Covid fast track Bill which will take away the community input from up to 1800 projects is being rushed through parliament.  Submissions close on Sunday Night 11.59pm 21 June.

 

The fast track COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill is being put through a very short Select Committee process. Rather than allowing a month for submissions and a several month Select Committee process, the Government has only given the Environment Select Committee 8 days to receive submissions, hear submissions and report back to Parliament.

The Government’s aim is to pass the Bill by the end of June and the Act is proposed to remain in force for 2 years but there is no justification for this period.
 
ECO considers the Government has not justified the introduction of this Bill. It removes public input, overturns their principles of public engagement they developed for the RMA Review and the Resource Management Amendment Bill. Only ACT voted against the introduction of the Bill. National supported the Bill to the Select Committee process as did the Greens.
 
The Bill deprives the public of input but allows input from a limited list of organisations who will be given a very short period (10 days) on a proposal. For example only four environmental NGOs are proposed to be consulted on projects (Schedule 6, clause 17(6)):
(n) Environmental Defence Society Incorporated; and
(o) Generation Zero Incorporated; and
(p) Greenpeace of New Zealand Incorporated; and
(u) Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated.

 

ECO can see no reason why the list in clause 17(6) is not replaced by a general provision that any person or organisation can make a submission.  Limiting the groups will only lead to further poor decision making as key information is bound to be missed as it is likely to be in the hands of local people or varied experts.  There is no requirement to consult scientific expert bodies.
 
The Bill is complicated legislation as it runs to 83 pages and 136 clauses and lessens environmental protections and enables fast tracking of projects with hugely damaging impacts.
 
The purpose of the Bill (section 4) is very employment focused:
"The purpose of this Act is to urgently promote employment growth to support New Zealand’s recovery from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 15 and to support the certainty of ongoing investment across New Zealand, while continuing to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources."

Surprisingly the employment focus is lost in the decision-making clauses in the Bill. The problem for the Government is that infrastructure projects provide few jobs per dollar invested compared to many other projects or activities many that do not require RMA Consents.

The Minister for the Environment (combined with the Minister of Conservation for coastal projects) is the gatekeeper under the Bill deciding which projects get the green light and are referred to the fast track panel for approval on any designation and consent conditions. The flawed Environmental Protection Agency assists the panel. Members of the panel are appointed at the discretion of the Minister further politicising the decision making process.
 
The Bill lacks major transparency provisions. There is no requirement for the Minister for the Environment to publish any proposed project application for fast-tracking. The Government has refused to release the list of projects that have been applied to become “shovel-ready” projects.
 
The Bill is weak on climate change. It allows considerations of the impact of climate change on the project but not the impacts of the project on climate change.
 
The decision making provisions do not include consideration of the precautionary principle which should be standard in this legislation.

The information and environmental assessment requirements are less than those under the RMA. There is limited protection of threatened and endangered species and ecosystems.

 

The Minister for the Environment is the key gatekeeper for projects and also appoints the people to the decision making panels and also determines their term.  There is no requirement to hold a hearing.  It unclear what of this process is to be made public.

 

The Bill also put in place very limited ability to appeal to the High Court and prohibits a final appeal to the Supreme Court.  There is no ability to appeal decisions of the Panel to the Environment Court.

 

The Bill lists 11 projects (Schedule 2) which will be directly referred to fast-tracking panels.  These include an irrigation project near Kaikohe  (LP16) and further Auckland motorway expansion between Papakura and Drury (LP15).  There is no assessment of whether the projects will result in less greenhouse gas emissions and put us on a pathway to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.

 

The Government has refused to release the list of the other projects that might be considered once the Bill is passed or what criteria is being used to whittle down that list.  Over 1800 "shovel-ready" projects have been put up and amongst those suggested include mining projects, wetland drainage, and more roading projects.

 

The Bill includes a list of permitted activities that NZ Transport Authority and KiwiRail will be allowed to carry out (Schedule 4). It enables some mangrove removal and dredging, and some removal of vegetation from significant natural areas and significant ecological areas.

Given the highly truncated process for comments there are sure to be flaws and omissions in the Bill.
 
It has been sent to the Environment Select Committee with a report back by 29 June.
 
Written submissions can be made via the Parliament website, and must be made by 11.59pm on Sunday 21 June 2020.

 

Greenpeace has set up a page to assist making submissions https://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/story/have-your-say-on-the-covid-19-recovery-fast-track-consenting-bill/

 

And 350.org have produced a submission guide with more detail https://350.org.nz/covid-19-response-fast-track-consenting-bill-submission-guide/


Join the Action 

At this critical time in our environmental future, many organisations are joining the movement to lobby our Government and business, about their concerns for initiatives that appear counter productive to the objective of protecting the environment.  Here is a list of petitions and actions that ECO has been asked to circulate around our network.

Green Covid Response

Greenpeace is promoting a petition calling on the Government to implement a Green COVID-19 response. "If we direct relief funds towards clean transformative industries like renewable energy, regenerative farming and electric transport - we can set in place a greener, healthier and more resilient economy that puts people and planet first."

Support a Green Covid Response

Help protect special deep sea areas oceans  - the Kauri Forests of the Seas

ECO with other groups has a petition for action to change Aotearoa's antiquated legislation on bottom trawling which lags behind the rest of the world.  Bottom trawling involves dragging monstrous, weighted fishing nets through delicate ocean communities, like seamounts, decimating everything in their path.  There’s new evidence suggesting they’ll never fully recover.  MPI are now proposing to increase catch limits for Chatham Rise and Challenger orange roughy fisheries with no measures to protect seamounts and other vulnerable marine areas (see Review of Fisheries Sustainability Measures 1 October 2019, below).
Globally one million species face extinction. New Zealand, alone, has one of the highest proportions of species at risk in the world. The groups argue we should be creating biodiversity safe havens on land and sea rather than allowing business as usual to continue.Please sign the petition - links to three alternative sites running the same petition:

Greenpeace Bottom Trawling Petition; and DSCC bottom trawling petition.

Deal for Nature

The Joint Deal for Nature which was featured in past Tieke includes policies to:

  • Protect 30 percent of all ecosystems by 2030, including each marine habitat with true marine protection areas;

  • Increase funding for addressing threats posed by invasive plants, pathogens, and animals;

  • Implement policy to end mining on and under conservation land and strengthen conservation legislation;

  • Reform the Resource Management Act, so it offers greater environmental protection;

  • Diversify farming and reduce livestock numbers, fertiliser use, irrigation and sedimentation;

  • Protect wetlands and restore freshwater systems;

  • Reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and put a price on emissions from agriculture and improve public transport 

  • Account for environmental costs in economic decision making

  • End all new oil and gas exploration

You can download the Aotearoa Deal for Nature from the ECO website. 

 Review of the Hector's and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan - DoC and MPI -

Department of Conservation and Fisheries New Zealand have consulted on changes to management and protection of Māui and Hector's dolphin in July and August.  There is still no result on that consultation.  Māui dolphins are critically endangered with about 63 dolphins remaining, and the Hector's Dolphin's is endangered and have declined to about 10,000 now.  A discussion document, with revised Threat Management Plan (TMP) had a number of limited proposals.

The proposals include extensions to the boundaries of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary south to Wellington, and extending the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary to extend north to Kaikōura, south to Timaru, and offshore to 20 nautical miles.  In addition to threats from set nets and trawl nets, other threats are identified in the document, including seismic surveys, seabed mining, and toxoplasmosis, a disease which can affects dolphins and other marine mammals. 

ECO is disappointed in many of the elements of the proposed plan. Only one of the Maui dolphin options comes close to comprehensive protection (Option 4) but fails to include the full range of measures that have been endorsed by the IUCN and by the International Whaling Commission.  Set nets and trawling should be prohibited out to 100m contour so that the dolphins have a chance to recover and do not become extinct.
The Hector’s dolphin options are a mishmash of proposals with none getting close to adequate protection.  There are few changes of substance to measures for the vulnerable populations south of Dunedin in the Catlins and Te Waewae Bay.

For copies of the review reports, workshops and stakeholder forums can be found here.