Kiran Chug has a great story in this morning’s Dominion Post: the sorry tale of the proposed National Policy Statement on Freshwater management. Our rivers are getting dirtier and dirtier while this document languishes.
A quick history:
National policy statements are tools that can be developed under the Resource Management Act to guide local and regional councils to make decisions when local concerns conflict with issues of national significance.
A draft NPS on fresh water was started under the Labour Government, but the draft produced was waffly, ineffective, unclear, and wouldn’t have done anything much to protect our clean up our waterways.
That draft was referred to a Board of Inquiry headed by Judge David Shepperd who reviewed it, heard public submissions, and made suggestions to improve it. These suggestions amount to a substantial re-write and the new draft is strong, clear, and ambitious about setting targets and timeframes for actually improving water quality and stemming the tide of environmental destruction.
This draft was provided to Environment Minister Nick Smith back in January, but he has clearly put it in the “too hard” basket, and kicked it to touch for the Land and Water Forum to consider. That group is due to report back in July (and reaching consensus will be no mean feat).
In the meantime, our rivers are getting dirtier and dirtier, and this potentially helpful tool is languishing. It’s great to see it getting a public airing. This issue was also featured on Nine to Noon this morning, including Russel, Nick Smith, and Federated Farmers’ dairy chairperson Lachlan McKenzie.
And what did McKenzie have to say about it? I’ve got to hand it to him, he didn’t beat around the bush:
“We don’t need that one. That one has rules in it.”
Perish the thought!