NES ‘anomalies’ could hamper foresters
A LEGAL EXPERT HAS WARNED THE FORESTRY INDUSTRY THAT ‘anomalies’ in the newly announced National Environmental Standards (NES) need to be remedied before it comes into effect next May.
Chris Fowler, partner with environmental law specialists, Adderley Head, told the 2017 DANA Forestry Conference in Rotorua that areas of uncertainty in the new legislation as it stands could affect harvesting operations.
Whilst the NES is designed to harmonise environmental rules governing forestry operations across the country, some aspects had not been finalised prior to its announcement.
These include existing river crossing culverts that would not comply with the NES, which were exempted in the earlier draft but not in the final document, and Mr Fowler says that means they will need to go through a consent process unless the ruling is changed.
“If it isn’t clarified, it is potentially a sizeable problem for forestry,” adds Mr Fowler.
Another area of concern in the NES is the inclusion of a rule to protect significant natural areas. This also changed from earlier drafts, says Mr Fowler and creates uncertainty because it is not clear where they are.
Forestry operations could also be hampered by the section governing discharge of sediment into waterways that must not result in any ‘conspicuous change’ in colour or visual clarity in water bodies, whilst allowing for ‘reasonable mixing’.
Mr Fowlers say the terms ‘conspicuous changes’ and ‘reasonable mixing’ are not defined in the NES and that’s for district and regional councils to determine, which generates uncertainty as these definitions could differ from one person to another.
Mr Fowler says the government has time to fix these issues before the NES comes into effect on May 1, 2018, but the industry will need to be vigilant in pushing for clarification.
Existing river crossings are not covered in the NES.