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Our country’s natural environment has international significance and is a New Zealand First priority. Wise governments view the preservation and enhancement of the environment as sound economics.  

All environmental policies will be proactive with a view to creating employment and sustainable wealth whilst improving one of our few competitive advantages.

Serious environmental problems and risks need to be addressed.

The conservation of our country’s natural and cultural heritage has international significance and is a New Zealand First priority.

While our environment is envied internationally as clean, green and attractive, the image hides a number of serious environmental problems which need to be addressed. These include pollution of streams and rivers and excessive water extractions from rivers in some regions, rehabilitation of erosion-prone land etc.

‘100% Pure’ must not be empty words, but must be backed by effective and enforceable environmental protection policies.

New Zealand First will:

  • Ensure that the state strikes a balance between economic progress and appropriate environmental goals.
  • Take account of the views of key stakeholders when making environmental policy.
  • Support consultative debate on the issue of extractive industries, ensuring that core conservation values are maintained.
  • Seek higher Crown levies on minerals extracted and return 25 per cent royalties to the source regions.
  • Make sure developers are responsible to their communities to avoid, remedy and mitigate adverse environmental effects.
  • Oppose the Emissions Trading Scheme which sees profiteering from our environment.
  • Advocate that the government and industry work together to address pollution.
  • Provide and promote conservation authorities with the necessary resources and legislative framework to ensure the protection of the environment.
  • Ensure that the Resource Management Act is stringently applied to all fracking operations.
  • Support an evidence based approach to environmental issues which are often complex, challenging with high degrees of uncertainty.

CONSERVATION

"Wise Governments view the preservation and enhancement of the environment as sound economics”. This is a New Zealand First Founding Principle.

All environmental policies will be proactive with a view to creating employment and sustainable wealth whilst improving one of our few competitive advantages.

We have a genuine concern for the environment and its preservation.  

We maintain that the role of the state must be to strike a balance between economic progress and appropriate environmental goals.  

New Zealand First will:

  • Enhance and protect the rights of all New Zealanders to access their cultural heritage sites and clarify and amend legislation associated with protecting these heritage sites, buildings, and objects. The protection of our historic heritage is vital.
  • Encourage local government use of the community wage scheme for conservation and weed and pest control activities and for environmental activities including the beautification and maintenance of waterways, beaches, parks and roadsides and measures to clean up pollution.
  • Develop plans and procedures to handle waste water in rural areas.
  • Require effective co-ordination between relevant government agencies to ensure appropriate deterrents exist to poaching and trafficking of protected species.
  • Support 'threatened species' recovery programmes and protection and restoration of the habitat.
  • Support the Historic Places Trust, Forest Heritage Fund, QEII Trust, Landcare, and Nga Whenua Rahui and explore other means of encouraging the voluntary protection of natural and historical resources in private ownership.
  • Rationalise pastoral leases, where grazing of value does exist, to promote ecologically sustainable land use, with special attention to 'protected natural areas’.
  • Encourage the development of 'eco-tourism' centres such as Kaikōura.
  • Ensure that wide public consultation occurs in the development of energy, sustainable land management and climate change policy.
  • Urgently advance work on the development of rubbish disposal alternatives (including exploring international experience).
  • Maintain the most stringent risk management processes emanating from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and its amendments by ensuring that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is sufficiently resourced to carry out its functions with the greatest rigour.
  • Continue the phasing out of organo-chlorides and facilitate the development of safe alternatives.
  • Where appropriate, provide funding to develop and promote organic farming options.
  • Provide financial support for the development of water harvesting schemes that have met feasibility, viability, and environmental requirements such as storage dams.  
  • Approach GM/GE with extreme caution, and only under secure confined laboratory conditions.
  • Improve documentation of important Maori sites of cultural or spiritual significance with appropriate local councils, thereby ensuring a 'no surprises' policy of where these sites exist.
  • Legislate for clear labelling of all genetically modified (GM) food products and will continue the rationalisation of the administration of food safety via the Food Administration Authority.

CLIMATE CHANGE

A great majority of countries see climate change as a result of increasing greenhouse gases and as a major global challenge.  

The most effective way to reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (primarily carbon dioxide and methane) is to progressively phase out the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal, and instead use renewable energy eg wind-power, photo-voltaic electricity from sunshine, wood fuels, etc.

In the last three years both wind and photo-voltaic electricity generation have become increasingly competitive with fossil fuel energy. A progressive phase-out of fossil fuels is possible if society develops appropriate strategies and plans. Other countries, notably Great Britain, and the Scandinavian countries are already doing this. Each citizen, and each country, has a duty, and a self-interest, to work to this end to reduce damage to our planet.

The motivation for reducing carbon omissions is clear. As well, major overseas companies that New Zealand trades with will increasingly require proof that our exports are produced sustainably. As a trading nation we cannot afford to sit on our hands. To do so would be to put our trade in primary products at risk, especially with countries that are doing their bit to reduce emissions.

New Zealand First Policies: Transitioning from Fossil Energy to Renewables

Failing to plan is planning to fail. This is the standard position of the present National-led government, and should be recognised as such.

New Zealand First will:

  • Oppose the New Zealand Emissions Trading System (ETS) as it has failed to deliver significant emissions reductions and there is no sign it is encouraging industry transition. In addition, it is counterproductive to pay polluting companies large taxpayer subsidies with no requirements on them to reduce emissions.
  • Support the establishment of a formal planning process to develop strategies, plans, research programmes and targets to achieve fossil carbon reduction relevant to New Zealand (the UK already does this under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act).This will involve consultation and debate between government, the business community, universities and other sectors to ensure that the process will be independent and non-partisan.
  • Support ‘net metering’ whereby electricity retailers will be required to purchase power generated by customers at the price it is normally sold to the customer. This is because customer generation is becoming increasingly attractive as the cost of generating electricity from renewable sources falls such as solar power.

COASTAL / OCEANS POLICY

New Zealand is a maritime nation. The marine environment with its ecosystem sustains thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in income each year from a wealth of industries – tourism, fisheries and energy being just some of them. New Zealand has a unique association with the marine environment, dating back to the initial arrival of Maori and more recently Europeans. Throughout the history of New Zealand, it has been a source of pleasure, of food and transport.

The oceans around New Zealand and around the world are being increasingly exploited for their huge mineral and food wealth. Increasingly ships coming into New Zealand are not always compliant with New Zealand safety and/or environmental standards. New Zealand has a reputation as a responsible member of the international community, which is jeopardised by non-compliance with international standards and failure to hold to account ship owners, charterers, crews and officials for negligent practices.

New Zealand First will:

  • Protect and enhance our international reputation by balancing economic demands with the needs of the physical marine environment.
  • Ensure that New Zealand maritime transport routes, ports and all shipping are aware of and fully compliant with New Zealand laws.


SUSTAINABLE OCEANS

New Zealand First will:

  • Introduce interim standards for drilling and exploratory work in New Zealand waters designed to meet New Zealand maritime conditions, while more comprehensive standards are worked out – must include provisions for design of rigs.
  • Require that all drilling/exploration/extraction projects in New Zealand waters be subject to public consultation – exploration must be subject to public concerns being mitigated.
  • Amend Resource Management Act 1991 to provide for emergencies involving marine-based extraction industry.
  • Set up and train appropriate to the risk rapid response teams to deal with maritime environmental emergencies that can be deployed at short notice in New Zealand or abroad.

MARITIME LAW

New Zealand First will:

  • Examine all issues of compliance and supervision of foreign ocean going vessels that operate in New Zealand waters to ensure compliance with NZ labour laws.
  • Overhaul Maritime Safety Act 1994 to provide for more active enforcement of New Zealand’s labour laws and prosecution of shipping companies that are non-compliant in New Zealand waters.

FORESHORE AND SEABED

New Zealand First continues to oppose any attempt to privatise the Foreshore (i.e. below the mean high water springs mark) & Seabed.

WATER RESOURCE USE AND MANAGEMENT

Water is our most precious resource.

New Zealand First principles for water use and management:

  • Water is a common good and cannot be owned by any person or by the Crown.
  • The Treaty of Waitangi does not confer rights to take or use water upon Māori which are greater or lesser than the rights of any other New Zealander.  
  • Maori have shared guardian status and therefore have a right to shared governance in some areas of water management.
  • Any such rights residing in any person must be established under the common law through existing legal processes.
  • Priorities for granting water rights must place public benefit before private benefit.
  • Requirements for domestic supply of water must prevail over all other takes and uses.
  • The current first in - first served approach for commercial water rights must be abandoned in favour of a strategic approach which places national needs in order of priority for the granting of water rights.
  • Requirements for the use of water for industrial purposes, electricity generation or agricultural irrigation (including forestry) must only be met to the extent that both the requirements of the RMA are met and sustainable agricultural outcomes are also met, including optimisation of water use efficiency.
  • Rights to take and use water are available only to New Zealand people (citizens and permanent residents) and New Zealand owned companies, and must not be alienated to overseas persons or interests whether directly or indirectly.
  • Water must not be taxed or subjected to any charge beyond the recovery of capital, and the operational costs (including a fair rate of return) of taking storing and reticulating it for the uses intended.
  • The special character of New Zealand’s remaining wild and scenic rivers must be protected by clearly identifying and listing them and by adopting specific policies for this purpose.

Policy applications:

NATIONAL POLICY STATEMENT ON WATER RESOURCE USES
A comprehensive National Policy Statement on Water Resource Uses must be developed and implemented by the government consistent with the principles set out above.

CONSULTATIVE PROCESS
The proposed National Policy Statement on Water Resource Uses must be developed following a comprehensive public consultation process; and expert advice and recommendations from special interest groups including local government, farmers, commercial interests, and universities must also be sought.

ENGAGEMENT WITH MĀORI
The proposed National Policy Statement on Water Resource Uses must be developed following a comprehensive process of engagement with Māori for the purpose of meeting their cultural values as far as possible having regard to the principles set out above.

NATIONAL WATER USE STRATEGY
Subject to the principles set out above, including priority for domestic water supplies, the government must be pro-active in encouraging and assisting the sustainable taking and use of water for agricultural irrigation (including forestry) and electricity generation (including both hydro-generation and geothermal generation) for economic development, by developing a national water use strategy (the Strategy).

These takes and uses of water must only be met to the extent that the requirements of the RMA are met, and sustainable agricultural outcomes are achieved, and water use efficiency is optimised.

WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS
To ensure the protection of wild and scenic rivers the existing National Policy Statement on Renewable Electricity Generation and/or the existing National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management must be amended to recognize the value of wild and scenic rivers.

An investigation must be carried out into which wild and scenic rivers outside conservation land would be appropriate candidates for protection with water conservation orders.
An investigation must be carried out to identify important wild and scenic rivers running through stewardship land which should be reclassified to protect these rivers.

LEGISLATION
Legislation must ensure that the granting of RMA consents is consistent with the proposed National Policy Statement on Water Resource Uses and the Strategy.

REGULATION
The government must regulate to assist in the achievement of the outcomes indicated above, including the amendment of existing water conservation orders and the imposition of additional water conservation orders where required for those purposes.

GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT
The government must invest over time in water schemes which are consistent with these policies, to assist and facilitate the establishment of such schemes where this is needed and appropriate.

STATE OWNERSHIP OF ELECTRICITY GENERATORS
Large scale hydro electricity generators, and large scale geothermal electricity generators, currently state owned enterprises, must remain exclusively in state ownership, and any shares sold in them under the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012 must be progressively bought back at a price no greater than they were first sold for by the state.

CROWN ENTITY TO HOLD ALL WATER STORAGE IN TRUST
All water storage facilities used for the purpose of hydro-electricity generation and/or agricultural irrigation held in any man-made storage reservoir, or in any lake or river consented for those purposes under the RMA, currently owned or held by any State Owned Enterprise, other Crown entity, or any local authority, will be transferred to a new Crown entity to be held permanently upon trust for the people of New Zealand. The new entity will allocate and licence all water storage resources for hydro-electric power generation and agricultural irrigation in accordance with the Strategy.

SURFACE WATER TAKES
Takes of surface water must not result in the degradation of major lakes and rivers so that their natural character and biodiversity are reduced to the extent that fundamental and irreversible damage is caused.

GROUND WATER TAKES
Takes of ground water must not result in water mining or any practice which would make the takes unsustainable.

USES OF WATER
Consents for the use of water must be conditional upon the adverse effects of discharge of the water after use (including leaching), including both immediate and cumulative effects, being no more than minor.

Rt Hon Winston Peters MP on this policy

"The conservation of our country’s natural and cultural heritage has international significance and is a New Zealand First priority. While our environment is envied internationally as clean, green and attractive, the image hides a number of serious environmental problems which need to be addressed. These include pollution of streams and rivers and excessive water extractions from rivers in some regions, rehabilitation of erosion-prone land etc."