EEZ Remedial Bill Progresses

by Desk Editor on Thursday, February 26, 2015 — 5:02 PM

A bill allowing the Maui gas field to continue operating while its marine consent is being considered has been sent to select committee for consideration.

Louise Upston on behalf of Environment Minister Nick Smith said the Government had put in place Exclusive Economic Zone legislation to put in place a regime to regulate the oceans. It was intended to protect the environment and allow for economic development.

Ms Upston said the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill was a technical bill which meant those with existing operations in the EEZ could continue until their new consents were processed.

There were four gas and oil operations in the EEZ off the Taranaki coast, operating since the 1970s in a safe manner but without environmental regulation this included Shell Todd Oil Service’s Maui gas platforms whose current license may expire before a current marine consent application is completed.

Ms Upston said the Government would have preferred Shell Todd Oil Services to have applied earlier for a consent for their Maui gas operations, but it was understandable with a new process that mistakes would take place.

The STOS application process was underway but appeals may push a conclusion past the expiration of the current license at the end of June, she said.

Labour’s Megan Woods says it was without pleasure to speak on legislation yet again fixing up the EEZ regime which had been poorly written. Labour would support it to select committee to hear submissions.

Woods said the bill was just foreshadowing what was to come with wider changes to the EEZ law flagged by Dr Smith.

Gareth Hughes said the Greens would oppose the bill due to the absence of information from the Government about the case for the bill. There appeared to be different rules for oil companies who failed to comply with the law as written and the rest of New Zealand, he said.

Mr Hughes said the Greens had an open mind on supporting the bill in the future if a case could be made for it helping the general public and not a single oil company.

The bill was referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee with a report back date of June 29 by 106 to 13 with the Greens opposed.

MPs then began debating the first reading of the Drug and Alcohol Testing of Community-based Offenders and Bailees Legislation Bill.

Earlier the Appropriation (2013/14 Confirmation and Validation) Bill was given its first reading without debate on a voice vote.

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