Greenest Budget ever: Shaw
$181m for the Department of Conservation
The Government has stumped up the $100m kick-start it promised for a major new fund to make New Zealand greener. The long-signalled Green Investment Fund received one of biggest environnment spends in what Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw boasted was the “greenest Budget ever”.
The fund aimed to attract billions of dollars in private investment to attract new jobs and wealth for low-emissions projects and businesses, and, after being established later this year, would repay the state’s initial cash injection.
“In places like Australia, the UK
Sage said she had been left an “omnishambles” after intensive development had been allowed in the region, and current efforts to preserve it weren’t working.
Meanwhile, $3.1m has been allocated over four years for a new watchdog unit to police the Resource Management Act (RMA), which is itself soon set to be reformed.
Under the RMA, local authorities are delegated responsibility for the everyday management of the environment — and ensuring that any growth or development happens within the act’s set bottom lines.
Yet Environment Minister David Parker said compliance, monitoring and enforcement across councils was “somewhat variable” and the new unit would ensure the RMA was heeded.
A further $15m of fresh operating funding would go toward the over-subscribed Sustainable Farming Fund, which paired farmers and growers up with scientists, researchers, iwi and other partners.
Green groups were largely pleased with the Budget allocations, with the Environmental Defence Society particularly welcoming the new money for a “chronically underfunded” DOC.
But Greenpeace questioned why the Government was spending $800m each year subsidising greenhouse gas pollution from agriculture, and not folding the sector into the emissions trading scheme.
“That’s $800m a year that could be spent on providing critical public services for New Zealanders, not to mention cleaning up our environment and accelerating the transition to a clean, low-carbon economy,” its head, Russel Norman, said.
Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague saw this year’s Budget as a good step forward.
“For the first time in a long time there’s been a real increase in the natural heritage fund, which is the bread and butter for DOC’s conservation work,” he said.