11 May, 2011
EPA to improve environmental management
The passing of the Environmental Protection Authority Act today marks a major milestone in the Government’s efforts to strengthen New Zealand’s environmental management, Environment Minister Nick Smith says.
“The Environmental Protection Authority will improve environmental management by providing a consistent regulatory approach across New Zealand and over a broad range of environmental issues scattered among different agencies,” Dr Smith said.
“The new EPA will, from 1 July, take over environmental regulation functions from the Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Environmental Risk Management Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These functions include national consenting under the Resource Management Act, the regulation of hazardous substance and new organisms, the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, and our international obligations around hazardous waste, preserving the ozone layer, and assessment of environmental effects in Antarctica.
“The idea of an EPA was first raised in National’s 2006 Bluegreen Vision discussion paper and included in National’s 2008 election policy. A provisional EPA was set up within the Environment Ministry as part of the 100-day RMA reform in 2009. The next stage of our reform programme now we have a standalone EPA is a Bill to extend its role to environmental regulation in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
“This legislation was passed with the support of the Maori and United Future parties. It reflects the common ground between National and these parties on the need for a balanced approach that sees New Zealand utilise its natural resources for wealth creation, but also ensuring proper environmental protection. I particularly wish to thank the Maori Party whose support has been pivotal to progress on this and other environmental issues and who have had a significant influence on the EPA’s final design.
“The EPA Establishment Board chaired by former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast is making good progress in getting the Authority up and running. The next important decisions for Government will be securing the right balance of skills for the Board of the new Authority.”