Environment

Our environment is a valuable resource that we must preserve and protect. It’s a big part of our quality of life and it’s central to our international reputation, our primary sector, our growing tourism market, and our economy.

National believes sensible management of our resources can go hand-in-hand with faster economic growth and job creation. A stronger economy can better provide the means to restore, maintain, and enhance our environment.

In the past five years we have simplified resource management, improved air quality, helped minimise waste, and enhanced environmental governance.

We’ve put a plan in place to improve our rivers, lakes, and aquifers. We’ve introduced a more balanced approach to climate change. Our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is helping New Zealand do its fair share to reduce emissions, protect our clean, green brand, and help transition to a low-carbon economy.

National will continue this work to improve the environment and build a cleaner, greener, brighter future for all New Zealanders.

Environmental Reporting

  • The Environmental Reporting Bill represents National’s commitment to a step change in the way we monitor and report on the condition of our natural environment – a key commitment made in our 2011 Environment Manifesto.
  • The Bill will, for the first time, provide New Zealanders will credible, robust, and independent environmental information in a way that is easy to understand, independent and relevant.
  • The Bill sets out what information must be reported and when, and ensures the reports are independent and have scientific integrity.
  • The reports will be produced by the Secretary for the Environment and the Government Statistician on the five environmental domains – air, atmosphere and climate, freshwater, land, and marine – every six months, with an additional synthesis report covering all environmental domains every three years.
  • The Parliamentary Commissioner Environment will have a specified role providing detailed commentary on the reports themselves and their findings.
  • The environmental reporting system will provide New Zealanders with comprehensive information on the state of our environment, allowing us to fully understand both natural occurrences and the impact human activities are having.

 EEZ and Marine Legislation

  • Passed the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act) to better protect NZ’s oceans from offshore activities – including beefed up penalties of up to $10m for damage caused in the EEZ.
  • Ensuring the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) takes responsibility for activities in the EEZ delivers on one of our 2011 policy promises.
  • We’ve introduced a new non-notified discretionary classification for the marine consent regime to allow activities which are routine, exploratory, or of brief duration to undergo a simplified consenting process that retains full regulatory discretion by the EPA. Consent for production activities resulting from any exploration undertaken through the new classification will still require a full marine consent process.
  • The classification will provide effective oversight and environmental safeguards without burdening industry with excessive costs and timeframes.
  • As part of the marine consent application, operators will need to submit an impact assessment that identifies impacts on the environment and existing interests – describing any consultation undertaken with people identified as existing interests.
  • The EPA will fully assess the effects of the activity on the environment and existing interests. If a marine consent is granted, the EPA can impose such conditions as it thinks necessary to properly manage any adverse effects of the activity.
  • Obtaining a marine consent to drill an exploratory well does not give the consent holder the right to begin producing oil or gas. The operator would need to apply for a separate, discretionary marine consent before any production activities could take place. During this stage, the public would have the opportunity to make submissions on the proposed activities.
  • Budget 2014 invests an additional $3.2 million in 2014/15 to support the implementation of the EEZ legislation, helping the EPA to fully develop and carry out its new functions and responsibilities in the EEZ.

Freshwater management

  • Spent $101 million on water clean-ups and committed $350 million – a fivefold increase in funding – for lake and river clean-ups.
  • Doubled penalties for non-compliance with water regulations and strengthened monitoring and enforcement.
  • Passed regulations for metering 98% of water takes.
  • Established the Land and Water Forum, a collaborative approach to water management.
  • Implemented a National Policy Statement for Freshwater.
  • Developed a National Objectives Framework for Freshwater, providing a scientifically-backed framework to deliver generational reform of water management and water extraction.
  • Proposed numeric national water quality bottom lines to safeguard aquatic life, and ensure we can all enjoy our water.
  • Budget 2014 makes available $20 million over four years for environmental initiatives and to help the management of New Zealand’s natural environment.

Clean air  

  • More than 29,000 homes have been converted to clean heating.
  • Improved the National Environment Standard for Air Quality.
  • Phased in tougher vehicle emission standards.
  • Over 300,000 homes insulated in Government programmes.

Reducing waste

  • Established Waste Minimisation Board to expand recycling.
  • Distributed nearly $100m through the Waste Disposal Levy to help communities minimise waste.
  • Introduced product stewardship schemes with 11 now in place.
  • Over 219,000 TVs recycled in the TV Takeback programme that would have otherwise gone into landfills.

Cleaning contaminated sites

  • Provided $30.5 million to clean up New Zealand’s most contaminated sites.