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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An attack on democracy - today's meeting with MPI

Proposed national guidelines for forestry would strip councils of democratic rights, an Environment Southland councillor says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries held a public meeting on Tuesday, to address the proposed introduction of a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry.

About 30 people attended the meeting at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club.

Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton was concerned the proposal seemingly slipped in the permitted planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), without public consultation.

The proposed NES would replace regional and district councils' existing district and regional plan rules for managing plantation forestry, creating a nationally consistent approach.

However, Guyton was concerned it would take away the power from elected councillors.

"The democratically elected representatives will have no say."

The proposal would have lasting effects for Southland. Allowing genetically modified plantations, including sterile trees, would limit environmental risk management, pest management and the ability to market New Zealand goods overseas, he said.

It would mean New Zealand would lose its GE Free status and would not be able to reclaim it, creating a "serious economic threat" to Southland, he said.

"Once it's in, it's in."

Under the proposed NES, local council authorities would lose the ability to make decisions on planting genetically modified trees, he said.

While Guyton opposed the use of GMO, Steve Chandler, a Southland/Otago forest manager, said he supported the NES proposal because it would allow the use of some GMOs.

"One of the things that we really like is the ability to implement sterile trees."

However, MPI forestry and land management directionate analyst Stuart Miller said the Environmental Protection Agency was yet to approve any use of genetically modified trees.

"It is an issue that has been raised across New Zealand and we'll be giving some serious thought to the issue of GMOs and GE as a public interest."

Wider public consultation would be considered, he said.

Proposals for the improvement of the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative were also discussed at the meeting. It enables landowners to receive carbon units through the creation of permanent forests.

The initiative, part of New Zealand's climate change response, is under review to increase the area of permanent forests, increase economic benefits for participants and improve administration.

MPI is asking for submissions on the NES and on the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, both submission periods close in August.

- The Southland Times Brittany Pickett

2 comments:

Bioneer said...

Someone had to say it.

robertguyton said...

There has been someone at every meeting around the country, saying it.