National’s West Coast based List MP Maureen Pugh says it is time for the Government to step up and deliver on the work signed off in the West Coast Economic Development Action Plan last year.

“The West Coast welcomes the sentiments of Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones which acknowledges how vital the extractive industries are for future economic activity on the West Coast.

“However, in light of Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage stated desire to ban access to Public Conservation Land – which accounts for around 84 per cent of the West Coast, not all of it high value – West Coasters remain concerned. 

“The Government has shown with their decision to ban oil and gas in in Taranaki that they seem intent on doing everything it can to undermine New Zealand’s economy and prosperity.

“National supports sensible steps to protect our environment and reduce our carbon emissions. And we oppose mining on high-value conservation land but New Zealand needs a pragmatic and balanced approach to the economy and the environment.

“That’s why National signed off on the West Coast Economic Development Action Plan last year, and access to low value conservation land was a crucial element of the Action Plan. It is a relief to see NZ First are now acknowledging the importance of this to our region.

“Opening up low value conservation land and streamlining permits is necessary to make sustainable economic activity possible, and provide growing employment on the West Coast.

“In addition, National proposed that we would change legislation enabling ongoing access to timber on Public Conservation Land that is felled as a result of natural events.

“In light of the statements from Mr Jones, I welcome him to step up and deliver on the framework he has been handed through the Action Plan, instead of simply talking up splits in the coalition government.”

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