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Paying polluters to stop a bad idea

Paying polluters to stop their activities a bad idea

Green media release 26th June 2008

A proposal by Federated Farmers that taxpayers should pay to discourage water polluters is a bad idea, according to Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman.

"Giving cash to those industrial farmers who make our lakes and rivers unsafe for swimming in and our groundwater unhealthy for drinking is like saying taxpayers should give cash to big manufacturers to stop anti-community activities such as dangerous work practices," Dr Norman said.

"It could lead to factories and big industrial farming complexes being officially encouraged to boost the amount of environmental harm they cause in the hope of more taxpayer dollars.

"It's also a slap in the face for all those farmers around New Zealand who are doing a great job, for example of planting riparian strips along streams, and bridges across them, so that waterways are safe for their children and for others."

Last night on Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint, Federated Farmers President Charlie Pedersen used 37 farmers around Lake Taupo and one large farm in particular as examples of where farmers should receive compensation for stopping pollution.

"I wish Charlie well as he steps down from office and am sorry he declined to take up my offer to debate the water pollution issue at this month's Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek," Dr Norman said. "We are poles apart on some issues but I totally agree with his statements on Checkpoint that Lake Taupo is an iconic piece of our landscape and needs to be enhanced and protected.

"I also agree with his comment that it 'could be right' that only a small number of polluters are involved. But I don't agree taxpayers should pay to stop such anti-community practices."

Dr Norman said Lake Taupo was a particularly bad example for Federated Farmers to use as it could be argued there was already compensation for farmers for pollution research and other support under the Lake Taupo Protection Trust scheme.

Mr Pedersen's comments about paying polluters to stop such activity follow his suggestion earlier this month, also on Radio New Zealand, that farmers should be paid for the rain water which flows off their farms into waterways.

See bullet points below on Lake Taupo Protection Trust

Lake Taupo Protection Trust.

New Zealand's largest ever environmental project was launched in February 2007 with the establishment of the Lake Taupo Protection Trust.

New rules, adopted March 2007, make pastoral farming in the Taupo catchment a controlled activity under the Resource Management Act 1991.

As of 1 July 2007 all rural land owners farming in the area when the variation to the Waikato Regional Plan for the Taupo catchment was notified can continue farming but need a resource consent to do so.

The Trust will administer a $81.5 million fund to protect Lake Taupo's water quality.

Environment Waikato has established the $81.5 million fund with Central Government and Taupo District Council to help reduce nitrogen levels by at least 20 percent by 2020.

The fund will be used to change land uses to lower-nitrogen producing activities, such as converting pastoral land to forestry.

Trust funding percentages are Ministry for the Environment (45%), Environment Waikato (33%) and the Taupo District Council (22%).

Over the next 15 years, the Lake Taupo Protection Trust will encourage and assist land use change, purchase land in the Lake Taupo catchment and fund research and other initiatives that assist land owners to reduce the nitrogen impact of their activities on Lake Taupo.

One of the principal aims of the trust is to reduce the amount of nitrogen leaching into the Lake Taupo by 20 percent.

ENDS

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