25 Nov 2003

Cook Islands mayor concerned over aspects of new environment act

5:11 pm on 25 November 2003

The mayor of the outer island of Atiu in the Cook Islands says he would like to see parts of the new Environment Act amended.

The legislation has just been passed and while it allows outer islands to develop their own environmental bylaws, Aneru Tautu says there are problems.

The act requires the setting up of an island authority to create the bylaws.

Mr Tautu says the island council already exists to do that and creating a separate authority would be a political football.

"If the environment bill would consider the Island council, the Arohomana, the core group for any by-laws to be decided for the island, I think that will be sufficient, because with in the council you have representatives from the villages and you have the Ui a riki, the hierarchy of the island, also part of council so, I think if we were to set up a committee, it'll be just another organisation for political purposes."

Mr Tautu says he is also concerned that the minister or the courts will have the final say on any disagreements over developments rather than Atiu.

He says the island council is meeting later this week and is likely to ask the environment minister to make amendments to the act.