19, May, 2006

Environmentally blind budget

Category: ECO Inc

The Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ says that yesterday’s budget is environmentally blind.

“The Budget invests heavily in social capital but does virtually nothing to address the loss of natural capital," said ECO Chairperson Cath Wallace. "The Budget gives crumbs to the Department of Conservation and not nearly enough to stem the loss of fisheries and the damage from fishing to the marine environment.”

“The Budget instead invests in the creation of future health and environmental costs by encouraging car use and climate change through its massive investment in roads. This Budget’s impacts on health will be hugely negative for that reason, despite the attention to the obesity epidemic." "It is a climate irresponsible budget," she said.

“ECO welcomes the proposed extra funding in fisheries management and research but at $2 million, this is small compared to the environmental impacts of the fishing industry. While the Ministry of Fisheries got half a million for implementation of the marine protected areas strategy there was no extra money for the Department of Conservation to implement the strategy. Yet it is the Department of Conservation that is supposed to be the lead agency on marine protected areas.">p> “The gigantic increase in roading funding ignores the impacts of the increased road use on climate change and air pollution. In stark contrast there is no major increase in public transport funding, yet this is urgently required.”

"This does double harm. We will have more greenhouse gases, more lethal air pollution, higher future health costs from vehicle pollution and from the spread of infectious diseases as our climate becomes more mosquito friendly to spread diseases like Ross River Virus, dengue fever and other nasties."

"It is highly significant that the same news bulletin that reported on Dr Cullen’s Budget speech this morning also reported that one of these mosquitos has spread to Colville and that Christchurch has had another day of exceeding air pollution limits."

"Pollution from vehicles and open fires are estimated to nationally kill hundreds of people every year. Can Dr Cullen not join the dots? Does he not see that his budget has over-invested in roads and under-invested in insulation and energy-efficiency and that this will generate deaths and ill-health as well as environmental damage?"

Ms Wallace said there must be more investment in walkways, cycle ways, public transport and rail. “The Auckland Regional Councils has identified a deficit of over $700 million for public transport in Auckland alone.”

“There was nothing in the budget to indicate that the Government recognises the need to drive the New Zealand economy away from climate affecting greenhouse gases.”

“There is little to increase investment in energy efficiency or to increase the retrofitting of old houses. Such initiatives would have benefits for healthier communities as well as in energy demand and environmental quality”

Ms Wallace said ECO welcomed the $13 million for environmental education in schools.


For further information, contact Barry Weeber 021-738-807 or Cath Wallace on 021-891-994

Notes: 1. ECO is the national alliance of groups with a concern for the environment and has 60 member organisations.

2. The extra funding of up to $2.26m for fisheries management and research has still to be consulted with a broad range of stakeholders. This includes $200,000 annually for improving information on effects of bottom trawling and ecosystem effects of fishing, $500,000 for a benthic biodiversity mapping exercise, $500,000 for implementing the Marine Protected Areas strategy (but there is no extra money for the Department of Conservation) and $750,000 for objectives based fisheries management.
Barry Weeber Phone/Fax 389-1696 Cell 021-738-807 www.eco.org.nz