Some environmental bits collecting in my in-box …

1. The Environmental Defence Society calls for an overhaul of NZ’s coastal management, in this media statement:

“The NZCPS (NZ Coastal Policy Statement) sets out national direction for coastal management that all councils in the country have to follow. Those policies are now out of synch with public sentiment and need changing.

The Minister of Conservation has an improved NZCPS as recommended by a Board of Inquiry last year but she has been sitting on it for months now. It’s time the Minister acted and promulgated the new NZCPS so that all New Zealanders including the development sector know what the rules are going forward.

We also urgently need a new Coastal Commission to provide national oversight of coastal developments and coastal management … A Coastal Commission, consisting of experts in Coastal Management, would protect the public interest in the coast and intervene on behalf of the government where that was called for, including facilitating purchase.”

2. On Radio NZ, Environment Minister Nick Smith says the Government will introduce environmental reporting legislation, noting that New Zealand is the only OECD country without a legislative mandate for such. He says that’s inconsistent with New Zealand’s ‘clean green’ brand. He says he’s keen for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to play an enhanced role in the collection and reporting of data.

3. As reported here in the National Business Review, a survey of NZ immigrants conducted by the Business Council for Sustainable Development shows 45 percent of them have been attracted to New Zealand by a better physical environment and access to nature than in the country they left.

4. As reported on SciBlogs, the Royal Society of New Zealand has just published this paper reviewing the latest international studies on sea level rise, and the implications for NZ. Based on the prevailing evidence and compared to other countries, NZ’s planning guidelines are on the low side. Not insignificant since, as NIWA expert Doug Ramsay notes, 12 of the 15 largest towns and cities in NZ are on low-lying coastal and estuarine margins, there’s been enormous pressure to develop on prime beachfront locations, and large chunks of our road and rail infrastructure are within 5 metres of current sea level.

5. And in this column, Colin James, reporting that Enviro Minister Nick Smith will soon launch a “clean tech” working group, argues persuasively that National still doesn’t “get it” with respect to the benefits of supporting “clean tech” research and development. He says: “The message so far: if clean-tech is to take off in New Zealand the private sector will have to get there pretty much on its own — or in cahoots with foreigners who see an opportunity to piggy-back on the 100 per cent pure brand. Turning that message round is the job for Smith’s working group. It’s a big job.”

Enough to convince you those damn environmentalists might be on to something.

Tom Belford

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