Release: Environmental protection vital, not ‘onerous’

The Government’s Fast Track Approvals Bill will give projects such as new coal mines a ‘get out of jail free’ card to wreak havoc on the environment, Labour Leader Chris Hipkins said today.

The Bill gives Ministers the final sign off on large projects, instead of an independent panel. It will allow three Ministers the power to override advice if they consider the conditions too ‘onerous’ for business.

“It’s worrying that Chris Bishop calls environmental protections ‘onerous’. Protecting land, people and native species is not onerous but in all of our interests.

“It’s also worrying that on the Government’s list of those they’re inviting to apply are companies that have donated recently to National and ACT. Directors and shareholders of Winton and Carter Group have made substantial donations in recent years, and are among those Chris Bishop has written to detailing how to apply for approval.

“Ministers shouldn’t be taking donations from business with one hand, and making decisions about their projects on the other.

“The Bill clearly enables private profit to trump our environmental protections, which will ultimately be detrimental to everyone,” Labour environment spokesperson Rachel Brooking said.

“If Ministers are making the decision to push go on a project the door is open to lobbying from companies and interests here and offshore.”

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