A new Great Walk through the Paparoa National Park to be built as a memorial to the 29 men who died in the 2010 Pike Mine tragedy can now proceed with the approval of a new Park Management Plan, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“The 65km Great Walk will provide access to the spectacular and diverse landscapes of southern Paparoa National Park. The track required changes to the Paparoa National Park Management Plan that have been approved by the New Zealand Conservation Authority. The track will be open to both trampers and mountain bikers. At the Punakaiki end, the popular Pororari River Track is proposed for walkers only, with mountain bikers provided with an alternative route via the southern end of the Inland Pack Track. Construction of the $10 million track is expected to start in late autumn and the Great Walk is due to open at the end of 2018.
“The families want the Great Walk to be an enduring memorial to their loved ones that brings lasting economic benefit to the West Coast. The families also see the track as a thank you to the West Coast community and to New Zealand for the support the families received following the mine tragedy.
“Paparoa Track is the name chosen by the Pike River Families Committee for the track between Blackball and Punakaiki, and the Pike29 Memorial Track for the 9km section of the Great Walk leading from the Paparoa Track to the Pike River Mine site,” Dr Smith says.
“The Paparoa Track includes 15km of existing track at its Blackball and Punakaiki ends and about 50km of new track needs to be constructed for the Paparoa and Pike29 Memorial tracks. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is working through the process to appoint contractors to carry out the work.
“Construction of the 20-bunk Moonlight Tops and Pororari huts on the Paparoa Track is planned to start next summer to take advantage of the better summer weather.
“DOC is working closely with Pike River Families Committee representatives on the design and development of the Great Walk and on the planning for an information centre at the Pike River Mine site.”
“I commend DOC staff, Ngāti Waewae, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board for their excellent work in achieving the review of the park plan within 12 months. I also thank the New Zealand Conservation Authority for its decisions on the new Paparoa National Park Management Plan and their timely approval of it.
“The Paparoa Track is fantastic news for the West Coast, with multiple benefits. It adds to the West Coast’s tourism attractions and is the first addition to the Great Walk network since 1993. It is a fitting memorial to the 29 men lost. It will make a spectacular part of the West Coast more accessible. The $10m construction cost over the next 18 months will also help the local economy.”
The Labour Party’s claim that “the number of dwellings consented in January was down 5 per cent on where it was in January last year” is just plain wrong, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“January dwelling consents were up both nationally (to 1752 January 2017 from 1695 January 2016) and in Auckland (to 512 from 506).
“The year to January 2017 also confirms ongoing growth nationally from the previous year (to 30,123 from 27,124) and in Auckland (to 10,032 from 9275).
“Phil Twyford is being tricky by excluding apartments and townhouses to get his erroneous figures. The definition of dwellings by Statistics New Zealand clearly includes apartments and townhouses. Our Government has been openly promoting more townhouses and apartments as part of our housing solution, and we welcome the stronger growth in their construction.
“This is just like the debacle over Chinese-sounding names, with Mr Twyford distorting the facts for political purposes.”
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today welcomed the Local Government and Environment Committee’s report on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.
“This legislation improves New Zealand’s environmental management, helps increase the supply and affordability of housing and supports jobs and growth. It contains 40 proposals that make significant changes to five different Acts and is the most comprehensive package of reform to the Resource Management Act since its inception 25 years ago,” Dr Smith says.
This is the second phase of the Government’s resource management reforms, and the dozen significant provisions in the Bill include:National planning standards to reduce complexity and cost Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks New 10-day consent category for minor activities New requirements for council to free up land for housing New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms More generous compensation for land required for public works Better alignment with other Acts like Reserves, Conservation and EEZ Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions Improved Maori participation arrangements
“The Maori Party reached agreement with the Government to support the Bill through all remaining stages in Parliament following detailed consideration of the initial policy and the inclusion of proposed changes to strengthen the original Iwi Participation Agreement. The Mana Whakahono ā Rohe/Iwi Participation Agreement provides a better framework for councils to meet their existing obligations to consult with local iwi. Many councils already have these agreements through Treaty settlements or good practice. The Government supports these provisions because we want iwi involved in how natural resources are managed and because formalising the process will help achieve better outcomes with less delays and costs.
“This is a huge bill and the Maori Party was not a member of the select committee. They need time to digest all of the select committee’s detailed changes to ensure they are consistent with their agreement with the Government. I will be meeting with the Maori Party co-leaders on ensuring we have got the detail right.”
The Bill will come back to the House for its second reading this week.
The Government’s 90 per cent swimmability target covers waterways over 40cm deep and lakes more than 1.5km in perimeter so the target is practical and measureable, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“A creek or stream that is less than 40cm deep is not that practical to swim in and there is not the reliable data on water quality in the 400,000km of smaller waterways to enable us to set meaningful targets.
“It is incorrect to claim there is no requirement under the National Policy Statement (NPS) to improve water quality in these 400,000km of creeks and streams. Ninety per cent of these flow into rivers and lakes that have specific targets and monitoring requirements. There is also a general requirement on councils to improve water quality in all waterways.
“I would encourage councils to include in their monitoring and reporting smaller waterways if they are locally significant. However, it is not practical to make it compulsory or to include it in the national targets. I have already had councils raise concerns about the costs to ratepayers of the new monitoring requirements in the NPS. The national targets and monitoring system to ensure progress will not work if each region has different definitions.
“The Government is step by step strengthening our management of fresh water. We introduced compulsory water metering in 2009, the first NPS on Fresh Water in 2011, the requirement to limit nutrients in 2014, the Environment Reporting Act in 2015 and these swimmability targets this year. We have also increased by six-fold funding for fresh water clean-ups to $450 million.
“The Government shares with environment groups an ambition to improve New Zealand’s water quality but where we differ is ensuring the standards and targets are practical and affordable.”
The 38 streets where building owners need to secure unreinforced masonry (URM) facades and parapets from Hurunui to Wellington within a year have been identified, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The Kaikōura Earthquake has increased the seismic risks in Wellington, Lower Hutt, Blenheim and Hurunui over the next three years. It is therefore prudent to require them to be secured and to help building owners with funding of these high-risk, URM parapets and facades to secure them.
“The 38 streets have been selected by the councils on the basis of pedestrian and vehicular traffic and where the risks from URM parapets and facades are greatest. The next step is for councils to formally notify the building owners affected. Some owners may already have taken corrective work.
“The Government has established a $3 million fund to help building owners with the cost of securing the parapets and facades. I have talked to the Mayors of the four councils involved and am pleased that all have confirmed that they will make financial contributions to this fund, bringing it to about $4.5m. The fund will be used to provide a 50 per cent subsidy for the work up to a maximum grant of $15,000 for a façade and $10,000 for a parapet to help building owners with the cost, estimated at $9m.”
The Government is using its powers under the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016 to require building owners to do the necessary securing work within 12 months.
“Many of the building owners in these four districts will already be aware of the parapets and façades which need to be secured, but notices from councils to the owners will officially start the clock for the 12-month deadline for the securing work to be done,” Dr Smith says.
“Falling unreinforced masonry is a major risk to people on the street during an earthquake as we saw in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake, when it claimed the lives of 39 people. It’s essential we’re proactive about this work so as to avoid a repeat of that terrible tragedy."
The targeted URM buildings are in the following streets:
Hurunui District Markham Street, Amberley Mountainview Road, Culverden
Hutt City Cuba Street, Lower Hutt High Street, Lower Hutt Hillary Court (being the area formed within Hillary Court, Vogel Street, and Treadwell Street), Naenae, Lower Hutt That part of Jackson Street between Cuba Street and Petone Avenue, Petone, Lower Hutt Waiwhetu Road, Waterloo, Lower Hutt
Marlborough District Alfred Street, Blenheim High Street, Blenheim
Wellington City Adelaide Road, Berhampore/Mt Cook/Newtown, Wellington Bond Street, Wellington Central, Wellington Courtenay Place, Te Aro, Wellington Coutts Street, Kilbirnie, Wellington Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington Dundas Street, Seatoun, Wellington Egmont Street, Te Aro, Wellington Eva Street, Te Aro, Wellington Ganges Road, Khandallah, Wellington Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington Hobart Street, Miramar, Wellington Holland Street, Te Aro, Wellington Hutt Road, Pipitea, Wellington Kilbirnie Crescent, Kilbirnie, Wellington Lambton Quay, Wellington Central, Wellington Manners Street, Te Aro, Wellington Miramar Avenue, Miramar, Wellington Riddiford Street, Newtown, Wellington Rintoul Street, Newtown, Wellington Taranaki Street, Te Aro, Wellington The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington Victoria Street, Te Aro, Wellington Vivian Street, Te Aro, Wellington Wakefield Street, Wellington Central, Wellington Willis Street, Wellington Central, Wellington Woodward Street, Wellington Central, Wellington
New regulations have been approved under the Resource Management Act that provide a national approach to the use of poisons like 1080 and brodifacoum, Environment Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“Pests like stoats, rats and possums kill 25 million native birds a year, and if we are serious about ensuring the survival of species like Kiwi, we need to use effective and efficient poisons like 1080,” Dr Smith says.
“This new approach standardises the rules for using such poisons rather than the current system of different rules in different regions. This change will reduce costs and delays for operators, ensure consistent conditions throughout the country, reduce mistakes from misunderstanding rule differences and allow best practice approaches to be used.
“The change will not increase any of the risks around the use of these poisons, which are effectively managed by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. It is expected to save $11 million over the next 20 years, enabling more pests to be controlled and more species saved.”
This change was advocated for by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, who was concerned about the duplication and inconsistency of the differing regional rules. The proposal was consulted on last year, with 70 per cent of submissions favouring the change. The new national regulations come into effect on 1 April 2017.
Dr Smith made the announcement while visiting Tiritiri Matangi Sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf as part of National’s annual Bluegreens Forum.
“I know there is opposition to poisons like 1080 and brodifacoum but they are essential tools to saving New Zealand’s natural heritage. Islands like Tiritiri Matangi are only so prolific in birdlife because of the use of these poisons in the past. These new regulations will help us create more special sanctuaries for the future and contribute to the Government’s goal of a Predator Free NZ by 2050.”
Further information on the regulation is available at www.mfe.govt.nz
A major new campaign to stop people littering aims to change behaviour and to educate people, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Parliamentary Private Secretary Scott Simpson announced today at National’s Bluegreen Forum in Auckland.
“Litter is a risk to New Zealand’s clean green brand and the best solution is where everyone responsibly disposes of their waste. That is why the Government is investing $3 million in a behavioural change campaign, the development of education materials and a national litter survey to help ensure we keep New Zealand beautiful.”
“The environmental harm from litter is not just the aesthetics but the harm plastic, paper and cans can do our waterways, marine environment and to wildlife. There is also the risk to New Zealand’s clean green brand.”
The ‘Do the Right Thing’ initiative will be funded through a grant to Keep New Zealand Beautiful from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund. This is the most generous support the Government has ever given Keep New Zealand Beautiful. The criteria for the fund was changed in 2016 by the Government to included improved litter management. The education component will be run through the Enviroschools organisation and the information campaign aligned with the Packaging Forum.
“Keep New Zealand Beautiful is an iconic kiwi institution and it is fitting in its 50th year we back this trusted name and organisation with the job of getting Kiwis to ‘Do The Right Thing’,” Dr Smith says.
“This funding includes support for national litter survey data. This will enable areas to celebrate being New Zealand’s tidiest kiwis and for those being the worst to be shamed into lifting their game. This data will be used to recognise at the Green Ribbon Awards those groups and communities that best live up to the Keep New Zealand Beautiful ambition.”
For more information on the Waste Minimisation Fund visit http://www.mfe.govt.nz/more/funding/waste-minimisation-fund/about-waste-minimisation-fund
For more information about Keep New Zealand Beautiful visit http://www.knzb.org.nz/
Claims by some organisations that the Government’s proposed standards for improving water quality are lower and accept a higher chance of infection are incorrect, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The 2003 Ministry of Health guideline of not swimming when the level exceeds 540 E. coli/100ml remains. The 2014 NPS included in bold the statement that this is the ‘minimum acceptable state’ for swimming and it remains so.
“The confusing feature of the 2014 table is that it mixes the concepts of swimmability and wadeability. The 260, 540 and 1000 E. coli/100ml annual medians are all in respect of the wadeable standard. The new attribute state table applies only to swimmability and focuses on the proportion of time a water body exceeds the 540 E. coli/100ml standard, with A (blue) exceeding this less than 5 per cent of the time, B (green) between 5 and 10 percent of the time and C (yellow) 10 to 20 per cent of the time. The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) website further clarifies that to meet the A, B and C attribute states, the annual median needs to be less than 130 E. coli/100ml. This means the infection rate for more than half of the time would be less than one in 1000.
“A good example to illustrate the better approach of the new table is the Hutt River below Silverstream, for which we have E. coli data for the past decade. It has an annual median E. coli of 100/100ml yet it exceeded the 540 E. coli/100ml 15 per cent of the time. The 2014 NPS that focussed on wadeability would have assigned it an A attribute state but gave no information on its swimmabilty. The 2017 NPS that is focussed on swimmability gives it a C attribute state. The new approach is consistent with the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website that today and for more than the last month has described this spot as swimmable.
“It is grossly incorrect to claim that a swimmer in the Hutt River (classed as C/yellow), would have a one in 20 chance of becoming unwell. The river has less than 130 E. coli/100ml for more than half the time, when the infection rate is less than 1:1000. It is only on those occurrences 15 per cent of the time when it exceeds 540 E. coli/100ml that the chance of infection gets to 1:20. I am also advised that the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Health joint guidelines were deliberately precautionary.
“There are three good reasons for the new and more sophisticated NPS table being proposed on Human Health for Recreation. The first is that the focus is on swimmability rather than wadeability. The second is that it connects with the real-time information available on the LAWA website on where people can swim. The third advantage is that it is consistent with the international risk levels for swimming accepted by the World Health Organisation, the European Union and the United States.
The Government today announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.
“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.
“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”
The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.
The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.
“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.
“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.
The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable” adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai” clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons clarifying the policy on exceptions strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.
“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.
“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.
“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”
The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.
Boards of Inquiry have been appointed to decide on two significant Auckland roading projects in a move which will get a decision by the end of the year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced today.
“These two major Auckland roading projects involve an investment of $2.2 billion and are best determined by the special Board of Inquiry process introduced to the Resource Management Act in National’s first phase of reforms. This will provide a robust process, a fair say for communities and a timely decision. The Boards we are appointing have the skills and experience to deliver the decisive leadership Auckland’s transport issues require,” Dr Smith says.
The $700 million Northern Corridor project will complete Auckland’s Western Ring Route. It will establish motorway interchange connections between SH1 and SH18, and capacity and safety improvements on SH1 from Constellation Drive to Oteha Valley Road and on SH18 between SH1 and the Albany Highway.
The Northern Corridor Improvements Proposal has been determined as a project of national significance by Dr Smith, as Minister for the Environment, on the recommendation of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Dr Smith has appointed Environment Judge Melanie Harland (chair), resource management consultant Conway Stewart and civil engineer Nigel Mark-Brown to the Board of Inquiry to consider the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) application for six notices of requirement and 25 resource consents for the project.
The $1.5 billion East-West Link roading proposal involves the construction of a new four-lane arterial road between State Highway 20, the Neilson Street Interchange and State Highway 1 at Mt Wellington.
The East-West Proposal has been jointly determined as a project of national significance by Dr Smith and the Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry. The Minister of Conservation is involved because the project includes the reclamation of 18 hectares of the Mangere Inlet. The Ministers have appointed retired High Court Judge Hon Dr John Priestly QC (chair), environment management consultant Michael Parsonson, civil engineer Alan Bickers and independent hearings commissioner Sheena Tepania to consider NZTA’s application for two notices of requirement and 23 resource consents for the project.
“There is an additional sensitivity for development projects that impact on the coast and estuaries which must be carefully considered alongside the transport needs of a growing city. This Board is appropriately skilled to make a good decision on this significant and important project for Auckland,” Ms Barry says.
The two projects are part of the Government’s wider accelerated Transport Programme which is focused on congestion relief, supporting economic growth and improving safety. The Board of Inquiry process has been previously used on projects such as the Waterview Connection and the Puhoi to Wellsford highway upgrades.
“The decisions on these huge transport projects are critical to Auckland’s future. The Board of Inquiry process does ensure a timely decision but is not a guarantee as to the outcome. I strongly encourage Aucklanders to engage in this process to ensure we get a good decision and the detail right,” Dr Smith concluded.