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Taxpayers still cleaning up after polluters

Taxpayers still cleaning up after polluters

The government’s announcement of a $100 million dollar fund to clean up the country’s increasing number of degraded rivers and lakes shows taxpayers are continuing to pay for polluters, according to the environmental organisation Fish & Game.

The Finance Minister Bill English used his budget speech this afternoon to announce the $100 million fund to clean up New Zealand rivers, lakes and aquifers over the next decade.

Mr English told Parliament that the Freshwater Improvement Fund will be new spending and will help communities improve water quality.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson says the funding falls well short of what is needed.

“While Fish & Game welcomes anything that will help fix the present woeful state of this country’s water quality, the sad truth is that this $100 million is only the start of what is needed to undo the damage caused by thoughtless development and intensification.

“Until polluters are properly held to account, the poor old taxpayer is going to have to continue paying hundreds of millions to clean up the mess being made of the environment,” says Mr Johnson.

Fish & Game says it is time the government and local and regional councils started properly enforcing the existing environment laws.

“The big question needs to be asked – why is water still being dirtied for profit? Making the polluter pay should be the minimum expectation,” Mr Johnson says.

He says Mr English’s announcement of funding to clean up polluted waterways contrasts sharply with the Government’s plans to weaken the country’s cornerstone environmental protection law, the Resource Management Act.

Bryce Johnson also questions the naming of the new fund.

“The name Freshwater Improvement Fund glosses over the real problem – the reality is that it will be spent on rescuing ruined streams, rivers and lakes, not improving them.

“Sadly this is the legacy our children and future generations will inherit from decades of unthinking abuse and exploitation of New Zealand’s freshwater,” says Mr Johnson.


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