The National Government and Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith have been missing in action in failing to provide local authorities with clear national direction on how to plan for sea-level rise, the Green Party said today.
“With sea-level rise inevitable, the Government needs to provide national direction under the Resource Management Act (RMA), so New Zealanders in low-lying areas such as Napier and Dunedin South aren’t left with uninsurable and uninhabitable homes,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.
The comments come on the back of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) report on preparing New Zealand for sea-level rise, which was released today.
“The National Government has a weak stance on reducing climate pollution. It’s also failing to show leadership in how New Zealand prepares for the impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise.
“The Green Party called for a National Policy Statement under the RMA as early as 2010 to provide clear and consistent policy direction for local councils responding to climate change. We strongly support the Parliamentary Commissioner’s recommendations that the Government needs to do more to help.
“Without consistent national direction as recommended by the PCE, the Government is abandoning councils and low-lying communities such as Napier and Dunedin South to deal with an uncertain future on their own.
“Sea-level rise is starting to affect people’s homes and businesses, and billions of dollars’ worth of property and infrastructure. It needs to be treated as priority issue by the Government.
“Unlike the Christchurch earthquakes, we have time to prepare, and we can adapt in ways that are fair and that don’t tear communities apart.
“A National Policy Statement and other national policy direction recommended by the Parliamentary Commissioner would ensure a consistent approach across New Zealand. It would give certainty to local government and help councils make hard decisions about development in at-risk areas.
“We support the Parliamentary Commissioner’s call for a working group to investigate what support can be given to people whose homes and properties are at risk from sea-level rise,” Ms Sage said.