EDS Update: Summer 2020

EDS Update: Summer 2020

Thanks to all our members and supporters for what has been a challenging but still productive year for EDS. And best wishes to everyone for a much-needed holiday break and improved 2021!

While C19 lockdowns meant we mostly worked from respective homes, EDS staff managed to keep the policy work going at pace. 

We’ve nearly finished the major Landscape Study with five case studies already published. The synthesis report will be released early in the new year and will recommend ways of improving outcomes for New Zealand’s landscapes as the resource management reforms take shape. 

In that connection we completed a focused look at Urban Management issues and began work on the 18-month Oceans reform project. We were delighted to see a new Minister for Oceans and Fisheries appointed by the new government and will be “turbo-charging” that project to produce timely reform ideas for the new government. We also commenced work on our Conservation Law Reform and Land Act Reform projects.

The ongoing litigation regarding dairy conversions in the fragile Mackenzie Country saw another win for the environment just last week. Simons Pass Station will now have to overcome the hurdle of a notified discretionary land use consent before it can turn on most of its irrigators. Thanks to those who donated to that case (especially welcome since the Ministry for the Environment’s Environmental Legal Assistance Fund refused to support it). 

Other current litigation includes EDS v New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd in which we are seeking urgent removal of ouvea premix from the old paper mill at Mataura. The case is locked into a Judicial Settlement Conference which has so far not produced a solution. We look forward to being free from the constraints of confidentiality soon and meantime hope that there is no further flooding there (when ouvea premix gets wet it produces ammonia gas which is toxic to humans and aquatic life).

We had to cancel the 2020 EDS Conference which was the big disappointment for the year. It will next convene in Christchurch in August 2021. While our Climate Change and Business Conference had to be deferred (once) it went ahead in November and was a real buzz: people really enjoyed both the online and in-person versions and there was a sense of mounting urgency and need to speed up the transition to a zero carbon economy.

In 2021 our program includes these highlights:

  • Publishing the landscape report and advocating the recommendations
  • Supporting further reforms in High Country management
  • Continuing with membership of the Freshwater Implementation Group
  • Advancing Oceans reform at pace
  • Getting Seachange Tai TImu Tai Pari implemented
  • Continuing work on Conservation law reform proposals
  • Continuing work on Land Act reform  
  • Getting the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity promulgated
  • Working actively with MFE and Ministers on resource management reform legislation
  • Continuing to litigate on critical district and regional plan reviews
  • Organising the 2021 Climate Change and Business Conference
  • Focusing on improving the rules for plantation forests
  • Running Aotearoa’s leading environmental summit conference
  • Encouraging landscape scale restoration with native trees

Finally, we will be having some staff changes shortly which we’ll announce in the new year. Our intention is to develop more policy capacity on both climate change and marine issues. 2021 is going to be a biggie with high expectations for reform and a turning point for environmental management. EDS will be there, in its 50th anniversary year, pushing hard and often for positive change.

Last updated at 11:32AM on December 23, 2020