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Make the users pay for clean environment

31 January 2008 - Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Make the users pay for clean environment

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to meet the costs of its contribution to the sorry state of the environment outlined in a major Government report today, Forest & Bird says.

The report, Environment New Zealand 2007, shows that the state of the environment has undergone significant decline in the last decade, largely due to the impact of primary industries.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says that primary industries, such as dairy farming, which are reaping record profits should be required to factor into their costs the environmental damage they are causing.

“Our primary industries are enjoying boom times, yet the New Zealand taxpayer is being forced to pay to clean up the environmental mess while the primary sector is banking the cheques. This amounts to significant subsidies to our primary industries paid for by the rest of New Zealand. Almost every other industry in New Zealand has to pay the full cost of its activities.”

“If primary industries such as agriculture and fisheries – rather than taxpayers - were required to meet the economic cost of the huge environmental damage they are causing, they would quickly clean up their act.”

Kevin Hackwell says the report shows alarming trends in the state of the environment. For example, the number of fisheries that are over-fished has increased 50% in 10 years; threatened species such as kiwi, kaka and wrybill have decreased in range; New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have gone up 25%, and fertilizer use has doubled (with much of it ending up in our waterways).

“Many of these negative trends in the quality of our environment are directly attributable to expansion of primary industries, such as intensification of land use, increase in dairy farming and deforestation,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“It is only fair that the activities and businesses that create the problems should be required to fix them, rather than leaving them for the rest of New Zealand and future generations to deal with. This is a true market solution where the cost of environmental impact is built into the cost of production.”

“While New Zealand’s dairy exports reached a record high last year, the costs of cleaning up our lakes and rivers that are polluted by the dairy industry are passed on to the community, rather than the overseas consumers of dairy products. The user should be paying the full cost.”


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