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MfE must stop downplaying dairy pollution

MfE must release data and stop downplaying dairy pollution

Green media release 3rd March 2008

The Greens are calling for the Government to stop downplaying the extent of breaches of resource consents in the dairy industry and for the Ministry for the Environment to release the Clean Streams data that they have apparently misinterpreted.

This follows Forest and Bird's revelation that breaches of resource consents were 44% higher than stated in the Clean Streams Accord progress report last week. The Clean Streams Accord is an agreement between Fonterra, local and central government to reduce the environmental impact of Fonterra's dairy farms.

"There is a pattern of downplaying the extent that some farms are breaching their resource consents and polluting our rivers and streams. This has now occurred in the Clean Streams progress report and the State of the Environment report.

"We need Ministry for the Environment to release their data sets so we can check how they came to their lower figure for breaches of resource consents.

"My own investigations into conditions in the northern Wairarapa last week suggest that there are a significant minority of dairy and other farmers who are not keeping cattle out of rivers and streams (see video here ).

"The downplaying of the problem has a long tradition. It also occurred in October last year when Environment Canterbury released a report on its monitoring of resource consent compliance. It found:

110 Canterbury dairy farms (17.7%) required re-inspection visits due to incidents of significant or major non-compliance.

173 (28%) farms had problems with effluent discharge, which has a potential for adverse environmental effects such as contamination of surface or groundwater. Of these, 74 (12%) cases were considered significant to major.

"At the time the Minister of Agriculture spun these figures to argue that 90% of consent conditions were complied with and a further 8% were only minor non-compliance.

"We agree that the 'good guys' need praise for improving their act, but that doesn't mean we can lay off the 'bad guys' and continue to allow our waterways to further degrade - after all it only takes one polluter to mess up a river regardless if the others in that catchment are doing the right thing."


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