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NRT: MBIE doesn’t care about conservation

Written By: - Date published: 2:37 pm, May 18th, 2014 - 4 comments
Categories: Conservation, Economy, Environment, Mining, sustainability - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn turns his attention back to the hapless ministerial fool , Simon Bridges. It turns out that when he approved oil exploration in our biggest forest park without realising that he had, it was also what his advice had been. MoBIE simply didn’t consider if the oil exploration and presumably the eventual exploitation would conflict with something as economically vital as tourism. In fact, they appear to have ignored all other claims and uses of the land.

Last month, Minister of Energy Simon Bridges opened up vast areas of New Zealand for oil exploration. The offer area “just happened” to include our biggest forest park – a decision about which the Minister was apparently completely ignorant of – causing a certain amount of interest in whether he had properly considered conservation values in the decision-making process. Someone naturally asked over FYI, the public OIA requests site, and today the response came back: he didn’t. The released documents show that conservation and environmental issues didn’t really feature in the advice and that there was no advice on the underlying conservation values of particular areas proposed for exploration. In fact, MBIE officials were so unconcerned with conservation that they initially proposed including areas of schedule 4 land (which they would not grant permits for) in the offer simply to get pretty lines on the map:

While some small areas of Schedule 4 land have been included the release areas, this has been done so to maintain the integrity of the release areas for the tender process. No permits will be awarded over Schedule 4 land, World Heritage site or marine reserves.

[Briefing on Release of areas for consultation for Block Offer 2014, p 16 of response]

The Minister did at least realise how this would look, and squashed the idea immediately.

What about other conservation areas? A paper to the Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee [p. 30] makes their attitude clear:

While some of the proposed release areas do intersect marine mammal sanctuaries, as petroleum exploration activities are not incompatible with these sanctuaries, they have been included in the proposed release areas. Similarly, seamount closures and Benthic Protection Areas have also been included in the release areas as their restrictions only apply to fishing related activities.

In addition, the environmental effects of petroleum related activities are considered by different parts of the regulatory framework (such as the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012) from those that are concerned with the allocation of rights through the issuing of permits.

Basically, as far as MBIE is concerned, conservation simply isn’t their problem.

But that wasn’t the only interesting thing to come to light. As part of the process, the Minister was required to consult with iwi about the areas proposed for release. Their submissions were then summarily ignored [p. 56]:

A total of 22 requests to protect certain areas or amendments to the consultation were received. These include 11 requests from iwi and hapu, and 11 from local authorities.

Officials have analysed these requests and, with regard to the majority of sites of sensitivity identified, officials consider that the best way to address concerns is to include sites within Block Offer 2014 and to then encourage and facilitate engagement between iwi and hapu and petroleum companies to find their own solutions for avoiding or minimising any impacts of petroleum exploration activities on or near sites of significance.

[Emphasis added]

A small number of changes were made (most notably the exclusion of the Kaikoura Marine Mammal Sanctuary), but again the attitude is that it is simply not their problem. Whether this is consistent with the government’s duties as a treaty partner is left as an exercise for the reader.

Overall, the message is clear: MBIE doesn’t care about conservation, or about the Treaty. For them, the “right” of foreign oil companies to drill where-ever they want trumps everything.

4 comments on “NRT: MBIE doesn’t care about conservation”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Similarly, seamount closures and Benthic Protection Areas have also been included in the release areas as their restrictions only apply to fishing related activities.

    That’s a really bad example of ignorant bureaucracy justifying something that would almost certainly be totally worthless:

    These are typically formed from extinct volcanoes that rise abruptly…

    I really don’t think that you’ll find oil where the Earth’s central heat source has burned its way to the top of the Crust.

    And, yes, it’s absolutely atrocious that they’ve essentially justified ignoring environmental protections but not really surprising when you think about it. Our entire economic system is about extracting all the resources as fast as possible and damn the consequences.

  2. vto 2

    Simon Bridges is the end point of this useless erra

  3. weka 3

    MoBIE simply didn’t consider if the oil exploration and presumably the eventual exploitation would conflict with something as economically vital as tourism.

    That’s nothing to do with conservation. The point needs to be made again and again – the conservation estate has inherent value irrespective of what humans can get out of it in any given year or decade. Tourism, as we do it in NZ, is oil exploration lite, it’s just a different form of mining.

    The irony deepens when we consider the connections between Peak Oil/AGW, our need for an export economy (ie tourism), and the pressures to come on access to oil and minerals as resources become more scarce.

  4. tricledrown 4

    Simon Bridges.
    Knows full and well their is virtually no chance of finding recoverable amounts of Oil anywhere outside the Taranaki Basin as the Geology of our rocks around New Zealand are fractured not allowing gas and Oil to be retained.
    The Great South Basin is the only hope but because it is so deep we would have to build an undersea tunnel to the feilds to recover any oil or gas.
    All wells drilled so far have found no economic amounts.
    So Bridges is purely spinning to play the pro drillers against the enviromental block.
    Divide and conquer tactics is his Motive.

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