Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Government must stand strong on freshwater reform for all New Zealanders

Campaigners say the Government must stand strong against pressure from some in the agricultural sector to weaken freshwater reforms, following the release of the Government’s consultation document on freshwater farm plans and fencing rules.

“The pressure on the Government to weaken the protection of freshwater has been starting to show, with fencing rules being consulted on appearing weaker than they had been. It’s vital that Labour stands strong on freshwater reform to provide clean, safe water and protect the health of the environment for everyone,” says Choose Clean Water spokesperson Marnie Prickett.

“If the Government gives in to the loud voices and weakens reform, it will punish the leading farmers that have already been moving to healthier farms systems and let down our communities who all rely on clean, healthy waterways.”

Many in the agricultural sector have pushed for farm plans to be part of policy. And the Government’s move to bring farm plans in line with freshwater policy and regional plans could mean they become a useful tool for supporting and giving certainty to farmers, as well as providing confidence for the public that work being undertaken is meaningful and heading in the right direction.

However, Choose Clean Water says the Government must stand strong against pressure to use farm plans to weaken requirements for progress on freshwater.

Campaigners call on the Government to remember that the vast majority of rural and urban people want to see New Zealand on a clear path to cleaning up water and restoring the health of rivers.

The group says, due to the push to intensify farm systems over the last two decades, rivers have become sick and groundwater has been polluted. The public has been put at greater risk from the human health impacts of contaminated water.

“The country has long needed a clear path for restoring and protecting the health of water. Tangata whenua and communities all around the country have pushed for many years to get meaningful protection for rivers, leading farmers have been working hard to develop healthier systems, and the Government must stay true to this work.”

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