Govt water quality commitment ‘well overdue'
Fish & Game has welcomed the government’s intention to develop a new national plan to halt the decline in water quality and improve rivers, lakes and streams.
The Environment Minister David Parker says a new national plan is being developed to manage freshwater quality. It will be compulsory for regional councils to follow the plan.
Mr Parker says the National Policy Statement on Freshwater will set new limits for nutrient runoff into rivers and lakes, and no longer allow regional councils to approve intensive farming as a “permitted activity”.
Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Martin Taylor is welcoming the move.
“This decision is well overdue. Intensive farming – particularly dairy – has been increasingly damaging our waterways for 20 years and this is the first significant government action to face up to the problem and do something about it,” Mr Taylor says.
Martin Taylor says the time is right for a determined effort to address this country’s deteriorating water quality.
“The public is increasingly worried about the declining quality of the water in our rivers, lakes and streams.
“The recent Colmar Brunton survey conducted for Fish & Game showed three quarters of people are extremely or very concerned about pollution of lakes and rivers.
“And the survey also revealed that more than 70 percent of New Zealanders say commercial businesses – including farming – should pay for the impact they have on the environment.
“This is a powerful mandate from New Zealanders supporting government action,” Mr Taylor says.
Martin Taylor says improving water quality will require many farmers to take action.
“This is going to require a change of thinking among some members of the farming community.
“The scientific research is already there showing you can be a profitable dairy farm without destroying the environment,” he says.
“To their credit, some modern farmers are already ahead of the curve on this issue and are already doing their bit to protect the environment,” he says.
“However, those dragging the chain are going to require firm leadership from not only organisations like Federated Farmers, but also by the big agri-business companies like Fonterra and Dairy NZ.”
Martin Taylor says change is overdue.
“In the past, voters did not know about the environmental damage caused by intensive farming – but now they do,” he says.
“This means all political parties now have to have meaningful policies to improve water quality.
“Those parties which do not reset their environmental policies will struggle to hold their existing voter support, let along grow it.
“New Zealanders don’t want water quality to be a political football – it is too important for that”.