Experts analyse environmental impacts of law changes

29 October 2014


Rena reviewed: The Rena grounding is one of several environmental issues which will be tackled  by three leading environmental and legal experts in Tauranga on 3 November.Pic credit: Maritime New Zealand

It’s a time of change in New Zealand’s management of our offshore environment and four leading legal and environmental experts will discuss the implications of those changes at a panel discussion in Tauranga in November.

The discussion will cover issues such as the Rena, Maui dolphins, iron sand and phosphate mining and the Supreme Court decision earlier this year against the expansion of salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

The discussion is being hosted by the University of Waikato’s Te Piringa-Faculty of Law and the Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law (CEREL).

The panel will consist of CEREL director Professor Barry Barton, Bay of Plenty Regional Council chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill, leading environmental law expert Professor Al Gillespie, the first New Zealander to be named Rapporteur for the World Heritage Convention, and CEREL/Intercoast PhD Student Ingrid Leersnyder, who has been researching public participation in decisions around projects taking place offshore.

New Zealand’s offshore environment

Professor Barton says recent developments in environmental protection represent a “change point” in how New Zealand manages its offshore environment.

New laws had been enacted but there are still issues around mining, oil and gas exploration, and marine farms, he says. Marine reserves and protection for endangered species are also challenges.

Changing regulations

“There are gaps in the regulatory fabric. Regional councils are behind in the game, their plans need toughening up.”

Professor Barton says the Rena grounding had led to some improvements while the declining of an iron sand mining permit off Taranaki has ended up being appealed to the High Court. Environment Protection Authority hearings are underway into a request to mine phosphates from the ocean floor while offshore oil and gas exploration is likely to continue, with its low probability but high consequence risks.

There is also likely to be further developments under the Takutai Moana Act, previously the Foreshore and Seabed Act and recent court decisions to decline NZ King Salmon’s request to expand salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds had “given teeth” to the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, Professor Barton says.

The event being held at the Tauranga Yacht Club from 5.30pm pm Monday, 3 November.

Latest stories