The Taranaki Regional Council’s suggestion to postpone the public notification processes of the Proposed Regional Freshwater and Land Plan would “delay the much needed policy until after 2020 and cause irreparable harm to rivers, wetlands and soils in Taranaki” say community watchdog Climate Justice Taranaki.
The review of the current plan, published in 2001, is already years overdue. It fails to address the key issues of contaminant discharge into waterways from intensive dairy farming and other industries. It fails to address growing water allocation demand brought on by climate
change, impacts from oil and gas activities and protection of our
dwindling freshwater and wetland ecosystems.
The draft revised plan, while far from perfect, offers a platform for
improvements, such as requiring farm effluents to be discharged to land
rather than to waterways and completion of riparian planting and fencing
by 2020, although the proposed date is three years behind central
government advice. Council should incorporate stakeholders’ inputs,
notably those already received from district councils, the District
Health Board, Fish and Game, iwi and others, to produce a proposed plan
for public notification by December as planned so that broad-based
public inputs can be brought in effectively.
The National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater requires regional
councils to fully implement the NPS no later than the end of 2025.
Delaying the public notification of the proposed plan till 2020 suggests
that council is not serious about public inputs or making sure that
there is adequate time for its full implementation in accordance with
the NPS. Critically, the delay would also have serious implications on
a number of oil and gas activities which do not fall under the NPS but
urgently need to be better aligned with district council processes, as
advised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
Furthermore, TRC are claiming that a delay is okay because the recent
State of the Environment Report declared Taranaki waters to be of a
“high quality”. The report came under fire though from some of NZ’s
leading freshwater scientists who say TRC uses poor monitoring methods,
is massively shifting their baselines and grossly misinterpreting
“TRC are bowing to greedy industry demands over the real needs of our
communities and the environment. We have less than 8% of our original
wetlands left, which are the breeding grounds of many fish and birds and
a natural control system for floods and droughts. 74% of our native
freshwater fish, mussels and crayfish are already threatened with
extinction and the world is losing 75 billion tonnes of soil worth
US$400 billion dollars per year. People and the environment cannot
afford to delay this crucial policy. We need to urgently tell TRC to
stop bowing to short-sighted and destructive industries. Do not delay
the Freshwater and Land Management Plan.” concluded Emily Bailey for
Climate Justice Taranaki.