Environmental / Resource Management

Government Releases Environmental Law Reforms

Created: Friday, 27 November 2015 03:23

On Thursday morning the Minister for the Environment, Hon. Nick Smith introduced into Parliament the latest round of environmental law reforms.

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Key Licensing Decision for Supermarkets

Created: Tuesday, 17 November 2015 21:00

Christchurch Medical Officer of Health v J & G Vaudrey Limited (& Ors) [2015] NZHC 2749

The High Court has released a decision clarifying the role of District Licensing Committees (DLCs) in describing single area conditions in supermarkets, but aspects of the decision may lead to uncertainty for future applicants.

The Sale and Supply of Liquor Act 2012 (the Act) brought into force a much more comprehensive regime for applications for and renewals of alcohol licences than its predecessor, the Sale of Liquor Act 1989. One of the key changes for supermarkets and grocery stores is that all licence applications and renewals are subject to a 'single-area condition', which limits the display and promotion of alcohol to a certain area or areas within the premises. This new condition was introduced for the purpose set out in section 112(1) of the Act:

"...to limit (so far as is reasonably practicable) the exposure of shoppers in supermarkets and grocery stores to displays and promotions of alcohol, and advertisements for alcohol."

This appeal examined the role played by a DLC in describing the single-area condition in a licence application or renewal.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Environment

Created: Wednesday, 30 September 2015 12:20

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has had a fair degree of media coverage, both during its seven year negotiation, and since negotiations concluded on October 8 2015. Less has been heard however, on the Environment Chapter of the TPP, and what it might mean (if anything) for New Zealand and our environmental regulations.

What is the TPP?

TPP is a free trade agreement that will liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries: New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darassalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The rationale for an Environment Chapter in any trade agreement is to break down trade barriers that exist under the guise of environmental regulations; to promote higher standards of environmental protection globally; and to reduce trade advantages that one country may have over another because of lower environmental standards.

So, for a country like New Zealand with relatively high standards of environmental regulation, and with a highly trade exposed economy, environmental provisions in a trade agreement are welcomed.

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Environmental Reporting Act Passes

Created: Wednesday, 30 September 2015 12:20

Environment and Statistics Ministers have jointly announced the passing of the Environmental Reporting Act 2015 (the Act).

The Act provides legislative authority for the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand to report accurate and objective updates on the state of New Zealand’s environment.  Reports will be released biannually on one of the five domains of air, freshwater, land, marine and atmosphere / climate.  A synthesis report will be released once every three years.

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Clarification of the Authority for setting Speed Limit Bylaws

Created: Tuesday, 28 July 2015 03:01

Government recently passed emergency legislation to rectify a technical legal issue relating to speed limit bylaws. The Land Transport (Speed Limits Validation and Other Matters) Act 2015 (“The Act”) clarifies the power of local authorities and other road controlling authorities (such as the NZ Transport Agency) to set speed limits, and retrospectively ensures speed tickets issued since 2004 are enforceable.

The issue

Validity of speed limits set by around 25 local authorities since 2004 had been put in doubt. The issues were a result of increasing complexity in local government legislation and the Land Transport Act:

  • Any speed limit bylaw created under section 145 of the Local Government Act 2002 was required to be reviewed within five years. If no review took place the bylaw was deemed revoked after seven years;
  • Speed limit bylaws claiming to have been made under section 684 of the Local Government Act 1974 or section 22AB of the Land Transport Act 1998 may not have had the appropriate authority; and
  • Speed limits that were not validated according to section 10.1(7) of the Speed Limit Rule 2003 were deemed invalid.

If left uncorrected, speed limits in the districts and cities of local authorities affected may have been found to be unenforceable, if tested before a court.

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Assessing Native Bush Lots

Created: Monday, 08 June 2015 20:37

D & K Eastgate v Auckland Council [2015] NZEnvC 038

The use of native bush lots to justify rural subdivisions is often contentious, and this case was no exception.

This decision concerns an appeal of the decision of Auckland Council to refuse consent for a subdivision proposal of a property on rural zoned land in Clevedon.  The Auckland Council District Plan – Operative Manukau Section (the District Plan) provides for subdivision of rural land in limited circumstances, including provision for "native bush lots" as a controlled activity where, among other qualifying factors:

(a)       the site to be subdivided must be 10 hectares or more in area and held in one Certificate of Title on 5 June 1989; and

(b)       the native bush lot must contain at least 90% coverage of "native bush" as defined in the District Plan.  

Neither of these standards were met and therefore the proposal was assessed as a non-complying activity.  The application purported to distinguish itself as an exception through the proposed covenanting of an area of native bush and wetland within one of the lots.

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