MP's view: Bill ‘a serious assault’

I’m a big fan of wind power.

Wind power, along with solar PV, our big "wet batteries" in the form of hydro lakes, and our plentiful geothermal resource can all be combined using existing technology for a smarter, cleaner and cheaper energy system to provide energy wellbeing in an economy of enough.

We can rapidly reduce emissions while building resilience to climate shocks through our national integrated energy transition strategy.

However we face an uphill battle at present.

The government has opened submissions on its Fast Track Consenting Bill and likes to say fast tracking consents will speed up development, but what the new process really does is override pretty much every environmental protection safeguard we have.

The government tells us they aim to triple renewable electricity generation, but that should not be carte blanche for corporates to run rough-shod over communities and nature.

Some renewable electricity generation may get the nod through the Fast Track Bill, but we need community participation to keep our energy dollar in local circulation, not corporate control with our energy dollars flowing overseas.

We won’t know which projects the government intends to fast track until after the public’s opportunity to have their say has ended. Nevertheless, what is already hinted at indicates a serious assault on nature and democracy.

Think open-pit coal mines in the conservation estate, like the proposed Te Kuha mine near Westport and reconsenting the Rotowaro open cast coal mine.

In Otago we could see open-pit gold mining covering a huge area from Macraes through to Bendigo, with no consideration of environmental impacts.

Biodiversity loss, poisoned waterways, decimated fisheries, livelihoods destroyed, rapidly climbing greenhouse gas emissions — this could be the result of the most vicious assault on nature and on our very democracy from fast-track legislation.

The government is clearly in thrall to our most polluting industries. We’re in the 21st century but the government’s economic priorities are focused on solving 1970’s problems, and in doing so, ruining the future of everyone under 70.

It would be far better to support Dunedin’s locomotive depot and bring back passenger rail.

The situation is dire but not without hope. Now is the time to make your voice heard.

Public submissions are open until the April 19 and your voice matters.

Our Green team is preparing a helpful submission guide which will be on our website soon. I encourage you to make a submission because every voice counts.

 - By Green MP Scott Willis