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Minister pulls teeth from clean water rules

Minister pulls teeth from clean water rules

Environment Minister Nick Smith has taken the teeth out of the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS), said the Green Party today.

"This Government has taken a sound draft policy and removed the parts that would have made the most progress towards cleaning up our river and lakes," said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman.

Dr Norman was responding to the Government's release of the finalised National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management today, which has changed substantially from the draft NPS recommended by the Board of Inquiry - a group of experts appointed to consult the public and provide recommendations on the Policy.

"Nick Smith has removed the provision from the draft NPS which requires a resource consent, as a discretionary activity, for land use intensification. This is despite the fact that nearly every report on water quality identifies land use intensification as the main cause of water quality decline in New Zealand," Dr Norman said.

For example, a 2010 article by the National Institute on Water and Atmosphere says that our declining river water quality is undoubtedly associated with the intensification of pastoral farming and the conversion of drystock farmland to dairy farming, particularly in Waikato, Southland, and Canterbury.

"Despite the evidence, Nick Smith has taken out provisions that will force regional councils to regulate land use intensification," said Dr. Norman.

"The Government has not only disregarded the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry, it has also disregarded the recommendations of the Land and Water Form which comprises 58 diverse stakeholder groups. The Forum recommended that the draft NPS be adopted quickly, and with only minor changes, that would not undermine its strength.

"What constituency is the Government serving by undermining their own experts and stakeholders and pulling the teeth from the NPS?

"Many New Zealanders may be surprised to learn that nearly half of our monitored rivers are unsafe for swimming and that two-thirds of our native freshwater fish are threatened or at risk.

We need clear rules for clean water, and John Key's Government has made the wrong decision," said Dr Norman.

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