Environmental justice & law change

friends of waitara debt in RNZ

Andrea Moore, Fiona Clark & Robert Taylor. Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

The Taranaki Regional Council has spent $270,000 to pursue a debt of $25,000 from three dedicated environmentalists who have long been fighting for the health of the Waitara River. What got them into trouble was taking a stand for the environment by asking the Council for an independent hearing over an application for wastewater discharge into the sea. Having lost their High Court appeal, the three are ordered to pay for the hearing and court costs plus interest. Despite having paid off over half of the ‘debt’, Council is threatening them with bankruptcy, to avoid future precedent.

Is this justice?  Or simply bullying?  While we do not agree with this tactic, the three environmental heroes need our help. Please give a little.

Unfortunately the law offers little protection for honorable people trying to do the right thing. And the law is systematically being eroded to give corporations and economic growth the upper hand, while washing down environmental values and the rights and opportunities for public  intervention. Here are two current examples:

The proposed Marine Protected Areas Act excludes the entire EEZ and continental shelf, as well as any area under petroleum and mineral licenses, from consideration for marine protection. This is a ludicrous proposition especially considering the government’s stated ambition “to be a world leader in sustainable management and protection of our marine environment, so New Zealanders can continue to enjoy and benefit from its wealth for generations to come“. One problem is that future generations do not have a say, so inter-generational equity barely comes into consideration. But we do have a say now and we encourage you to write to the MfE and tell them what you think; or use the Forest & Bird online form. Submission opens till this Friday 11 March 5pm.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 is the long awaited RMA reform, except that it affects not only the RMA, but also the EEZ-CS Act, EPA Act, Reserves Act and Public Works Act, resulting in erosion of environmental bottom lines, enhanced ministerial powers and diminished public participation (EDS draft submission).  The Bill will have far ranging ramifications, so please have your say. The Select Committee will be receiving submissions till next Monday 14 March 5pm.






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