The government has announced it will set aside $20.5 million in the budget to clean up contaminated sites and fund new research into enhancing the environment. The package provides $16 million over the next four years to enhance biodiversity and protect biosecurity and $4.5 million to clean up sites potentially contaminated by pesticide manufacturing, mining and rubbish disposal..

Environment Minister David Benson-Pope says the government has been working with local government to clean up potentially contaminated sites, but more resources are required. Research, Science and Technology Minister Steve Maharey says the research funding will focus on improving pest management and fresh water biosecurity, including aquatic weeds like didymo.

The announcement is being welcomed by Forest and Bird. Forest and Bird spokesman, Kevin Hackwell, says New Zealand leads the world in pest management and hopefully the money will improve pest control. He says pests pose a phenomenal cost to the economy, not only for the environment but for primary production. Hackwell says New Zealand has a clean and green image, but could be a lot better.

Biosecurity urgency required Meanwhile, the Biosecurity Minister has admitted extra funding of $30 million to strengthen biosecurity measures will do little to make New Zealand's borders safer. Jim Anderton says the funding is in addition to $90 million already set aside. It will go towards biosecurity response preparedness, pest management and the surveillance of invasive ant species over four years. But Anderton says the funds will make the borders only slightly safer.

Opposition parties say what is needed is greater urgency when the country is facing major threats. National's biosecurity spokesperson Shane Ardern says there have been 150 incursions in the past five years. The Green Party says in the past officials have waited to see how dangerous a pest is instead of taking immediate action.