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Freshwater reforms likely to fail with Council indifference

Media Statement: Freshwater reforms likely to fail with Regional Council indifference

The Environment Institute of Australia & New Zealand (EIANZ) compliments the Government on the release of its discussion document Action for Healthy Waterways. This report is seeking public feedback on further initiatives for freshwater management.

“The discussion document reflects input from the Freshwater Leaders Group (FLG), Kāhui Wai Māori (KWM), the Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) and the Essential Freshwater Regional Sector Group. Reports from each of those groups have also been released today,” said EIANZ Vice President Dr Mark Bellingham.

“But poor and inconsistent freshwater management will continue while Regional Councils continue to under-perform., and they are the key link in the consenting, enforcement and monitoring processes for freshwater.

“Most Regional Councils have failed to implement the current National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, including large and well-resourced councils like Auckland, said Dr Bellingham.

“The problems are compounded by most Regional Councils steadfastly not employing accredited ecologists, with appropriate experience and qualifications. The proposed National Environmental Standards for Freshwater requires councils to have qualified wetland ecologists for assessing drainage and water take activities. Most Regional Councils do not have this level of expertise.

“The accreditation standard for wetland ecologists in New Zealand and Australia is the Certified Environmental Practitioner (CEnvP) Scheme, recognised by state and federal Governments in Australia and implemented by many New Zealand Government agencies, and most environmental consultancies. https://www.eianz.org/institute-programs/certified-environmental-practitioner-scheme

The New Zealand Local Government sector stands out for its failure to require accreditation for their ecological staff and consultants, unlike the accreditation required for engineers, landscape architects and other technical specialists

Dr Mark Bellingham

NZ Vice President Environment Institute of Australia & New Zealand

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