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In this issue of EDS News:

Heat on Fast-track Approvals Bill leads to changes
Request for list of scheduled project applicants denied
Resource Management (War on Nature) Amendment Bill
Terms of Reference for the Methane Review Panel are dodgy
Climate adaptation report sets out new law
Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill gets unanimous support
 
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Heat on Fast-track Approvals Bill leads to changes

The Government is retreating from some of the worst aspects of this contentious Bill. It could have saved a lot of aggravation if Ministers and the Prime Minister had listened to key environmental groups earlier. Then, the reaction to our push-back was aggressively confident. Now, Ministers are indicating there will be substantial changes to the Bill and they have even stopped referring to it by name in the latest Q3 plan.
Whilst EDS sees no need for this legislation (we already have workable fast-track laws in place) if it is to proceed changes need to at least include shifting decision-making to expert panels; widening legal standing to include environmental entities; including sustainable management in the purpose clause; adding environmental matters to the decision-making criteria; removing the override of prohibited activities and water conservation orders; and dropping the proposed scheduled projects altogether.
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Request for list of scheduled project applicants denied 
Two months ago, EDS requested the list of applicants that applied for scheduling in the Fast-track Approvals Bill. The Ministry for the Environment has today declined that request. EDS will be making an urgent complaint to the Ombudsman to get that decision overturned. Scheduled projects are proposed to be undemocratically inserted into the Bill. The public has a right to know the potential extent and breadth of environmental damage the Bill might inflict via scheduled projects. 
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Resource Management (War on Nature) Amendment Bill 
The Government’s latest resource management changes miss the mark. EDS has lodged an extensive submission on the (correctly named) Resource Management (Freshwater & Other Matters) Amendment Bill. EDS opposes the Bill because it lacks a clear evidence-basis, removes critical protections for freshwater and indigenous biodiversity, and is not consistent with New Zealand’s climate change obligations. The Bill also lacks a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, will create legal confusion and increase litigation risk for the Government and councils. We look forward with keen anticipation to our ten minutes before the Primary Production Committee in due course. 
Read EDS's Submission
 
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Terms of Reference for the Methane Review Panel are dodgy
A Panel has been established to ‘deliver an independent review of methane science and the 2050 target for consistency with no additional warming from agricultural methane emissions.’ It began its work last month and will report back to the Government by the end of November. This is an important review and is controversial because it assumes that no additional warming from biogenic methane from 2017 levels is an appropriate 2050 target. There is much science that holds otherwise - that agriculture needs to reduce, not stabilise, its emissions and impact on warming. The existing law requires emissions reductions of 24 - 47%. If the underlying presumption for the review is wrong then that calls into question the validity of the whole exercise. It can fairly be seen as a rort in which business and households and taxpayers are being asked to carry a heavier proportion of emission reductions, thereby subsidising farmers. We need to carefully explore the economic implications of this approach.
Read Panel's Terms of Reference
 
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Climate adaptation report sets out new law
EDS is launching its final synthesis report on climate adaptation on 11 June at an Auckland lunchtime function hosted by ASB Bank. The report, authored by EDS Policy Director Raewyn Peart, Design Recommendations for a Climate Adaptation Act, is the culmination of Phase 1 of EDS’s climate adaptation project which commenced in June 2022. The report sets out practical recommendations for the content of a new Climate Adaptation Act, including drafting of key sections. Copies of the report have been sent to the cross-party public inquiry into climate adaptation currently being undertaken by the Finance and Expenditure Committee. We will be presenting key messages from the report to the Committee. EDS is developing Phase 2 of the project and we’re looking for partners, including funders. If you are interested, please contact Raewyn Peart at raewyn@eds.org.nz.
Register for the launch
 
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Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill gets unanimous support
On 20 June the Environment Committee reported back on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill and recommended that it be passed with minor amendments to create 12 new high protection areas, 5 new seafloor protection areas and 2 extensions to existing marine reserves. The boundaries of the areas to be protected are unchanged from those initially set out in the Bill. The Committee’s recommendations were unanimous, indicating strong cross-party support for the initiative. This is in line with public assurances from the Prime Minister that National will support the Bill. It should pass into law later this year.
View this email as a webpage: EDS News February 2024
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