21 Feb 2014

Environmental reporting bill step closer to law

10:02 am on 21 February 2014

Legislation has been tabled in Parliament that will put in place legally mandated, independent environmental reporting for the first time.

Under the Environmental Reporting Bill, it's proposed the Ministry for the Environment and the Government Statistician will monitor the environment and the environment commissioner will review the results of their research.

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the reporting will provide air, climate, atmospheric, freshwater, marine and land information with biodiversity as a theme across all those areas. She says one environmental domain report will be released every six months, with a comprehensive report covering all areas every three years.

She says the reporting will be politically independent, and as minister she will have no ability to see, direct or set the content of the reporting.

However, the Environment and Conservation Organisation (Eco), a coalition of 55 environmental groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, says the Government can set the agenda by deciding what is monitored and how it's assessed.

And Forest and Bird says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, should be playing a central role rather than an auditing one. Spokesperson Debs Martin says the bill gives government departments too much power.

"Those departments should be there to provide the information upon request so that the books are open in terms of access to that information," she says, "and they should clearly provide the resource and backup for it - but they shouldn't be the author of it and they shouldn't be the designer of that work."

Ms Martin says that in its current form the bill allows the Government to set the agenda it wants.