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Environment Court ruling a win for clean rivers

5 September 2012

Environment Court ruling a win for clean rivers and a signal to Government

The Green Party today welcomed the Environment Court decision on the Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan.

The Environment Court has ruled that nutrient management provisions in the Horizons Regional Council One Plan which aim to improve water quality in the Manawatu-Whanganui region are valid.

“The Court’s decision sends a clear signal that business as usual, when it comes to polluting our rivers and lakes, is not an option. Nutrients entering our waterways must be managed more responsibly,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“The decision highlights the inadequacies of a voluntary approach and the need for effective rules and regulation like the One Plan. As the Court decision noted, ‘history suggests plainly enough that [voluntary measures] alone …. do not suffice to effectively deal with the problem’.

“Similarly at the national level, we urgently need strong national environmental standards so that councils have rules to protect water quality and control nutrient losses, especially for land uses such as intensive agriculture,” said Ms Sage.

“Effective national rules would guide regional councils and help avoid regional plans being relitigated in every region.

“Excuses that ‘it’s too hard or complex to act’ were rightly dismissed by the Court. Referring to land management issues around Lake Horowhenua, the Court explicitly said that claiming that problems are too complex ‘is absolutely not a reason to say … it’s too hard … and do nothing about something that unquestionably must be contributing to the problem’.”

“The Land and Water Forum could usefully consider the Court's decision to ensure that its recommendations around rules are strong enough.”

“The decision is a win for all New Zealanders who love our lakes and waterways and want water quality to improve so that they and their children can enjoy them to swim, fish, gather kai from,” said Ms Sage.

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