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Make the polluters pay - not the victims

Make the polluters pay - not the victims

The Green Party has renewed its call for a ‘polluter-pays’ eco-tax, after reports that more than a thousand Auckland homes might be built on contaminated land.

Auckland City Council is reported to have completed a study of 1155 properties built on former market-garden land that had been saturated with chemicals, and where it is feared that highly toxic spray had been dumped.

“The issue is about the public’s right to know,” said Green Co-Leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons. “For the safety of present and future owners, the council ought to make the report public.

“While it has agreed to attach individual pollution reports to property titles, it is still reluctant to write to current owners with the details and to so communities can take appropriate precautions with the lawns their kids play on and the ground they grow their food in.”

Ms Fitzsimons said the Auckland issue highlighted a national problem.

“Highly toxic chemicals have been used in agriculture and industry throughout New Zealand for more than a hundred years,” said Ms Fitzsimons. “Many of those sites, particularly in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and around Nelson, have been swallowed up by housing.

“The crops and mills and the orchards may have gone but the chemical residue can remain in the soil for decades. All councils should be required to test land for chemical residue before approving residential development, and that information should be included in a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) attached to the title.”

Ms Fitzsimons renewed her call for the Government to develop a pesticides reduction plan, to decrease the amount of pesticides used in agriculture, and to introduce an eco-tax on the production of toxic chemicals.

“There is no chance now of making the original polluters pay for the damage to the land,” she said. “However, the introduction of an eco-tax would help fund the clean-up of such land, compensate people who bought polluted properties in good faith, act as a disincentive for the use of toxic chemicals and could help subsidise non-toxic alternatives, such as organic farming.

“It would also help shift the tax burden away from ordinary New Zealanders and onto those whose actions have such long-term ramifications on our environment.”

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