Councils forced to reveal contaminated land sites

The public have a right to know the locations of contaminated land sites across New Zealand after a ruling.

A decision by the country's Office of the Ombudsman has been welcomed by green campaigners who are now calling for clean up needs to be addressed.

The ombudsman ruled against the Greater Wellington Regional Council forcing them to disclose the locations of around 1700 contaminated sites.

Its decision came after a campaign by newspaper The Dominion Post and according to campaigners means all authorities will have to disclose sites.

However at least one council, Tasman District, has said it will challenge the ruling.

Speaking yesterday (12 October) the Green Party's toxics spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said: "The Green Party has looked at different liability regimes around the world for toxic sites and we believe shared responsibility between polluting industries and the licensing authorities is fair.

"It is not fair for innocent landowners inheriting sites with serious historic toxicity risks to pay for their clean-up."

Ms Delahunty is currently in the process of drafting a Members' Bill to amend the Resource Management Act in order to establish a 'coherent and accessible' national register of contaminated sites as well as a liability regime to protect innocent landowners.

The Bill will be based on the idea of the polluter paying as well as Local Government and the Crown.

"A clear and fair process to establish liability is overdue and we also need the political will to set aside more funds than currently allocated for the clean-up of toxic sites," added Ms Delahunty.

"In 1999 the National Government was about to amend the Resource Management Act to create an 'innocent landowner' defence. A decade later they should help progress this matter with fairness and certainty for all."

Luke Walsh


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