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Councils Failing To Clean Up Our Environment

Wednesday November 3, 2004

Agriculture Sector And Regional Councils Failing To Clean Up Our Environment

Fish & Game New Zealand said a report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment revealing large scale environmental degradation from intensive agriculture, showed that the agricultural sector needed to urgently remedy the damage they were causing, and that it was also an indictment on Regional Councils.

The Commissioner, Dr Morgan Williams, launched the report “Growing for Good? The sustainability of intensive farming in New Zealand.” The Report says the rapid expansion in the use of nitrogen fertilisers, increased stocking rate, and increased irrigation were threatening New Zealand’s soils and freshwater. The Report says there is strong evidence that New Zealand waterways are becoming nutrient enriched and degraded from animal faecal matter and nitrogen.

Says Neil Deans Fish & Game spokesperson: “The Report supports what Fish & Game has been saying all along that land intensification cannot continue on its current scale without serious impacts on our natural resources.”

“There has been a virtual revolution in farming, particularly with the growth of massive dairy agribusinesses, the scale of which even takes some farmers by surprise. We support Dr Williams’ call for a fundamental redesign of farming practices and systems. The agricultural sector which is raking in money from this level of rapid growth needs to take responsibility for the damage it is causing. Not only from a social responsibility point of view, but also the potential damage to our overseas sales. They are not doing enough.”

“Another critical element arising from this growing level of environmental damage has been poor local governmental management. Regional Councils have been pitifully slow to control the impacts of this agricultural revolution.”

“They are carrying out insufficient scientific work on the effects of such large scale change and making significant decisions on the basis of very poor environmental information. Some Regional Councils grant lengthy resource consents, for 35 years, with little understanding of the long term effects.”

“Regional Councils are not responding fast or comprehensively enough to reduce nitrogen pollution. In the Waikato, for example, $63 million of nitrogen is lost each year”.

“This Report, and the recent NIWA report which said that almost all lowland waterways have pollution levels that exceed health standards are a wake-up call to the public and politicians. It just proves how necessary Fish & Game’s Dirty Dairying campaign was.” “How can we brand ourselves as ‘clean and green and 100 percent’ pure when the evidence shows us as dirty and brown”, says Mr Deans.

“This expansion in farm productivity is based on cheap energy which makes New Zealand very vulnerable economically. Along with cleaning up our environment the agricultural sector needs to urgently look at conserving energy and being less wasteful.”


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