Twenty years is too long to wait to reduce nutrient loadings in Lake Rotorua, the Green Party said today.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council today announced that instead of an Environment Court hearing, it was signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Federated Farmers and the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective with a goal of reducing pollution of Lake Rotorua.
"The proposed timeframe to meet the nutrient reduction target is too long. We need clean water rules and stronger land use controls now, not just for Lake Rotorua but across New Zealand," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
"Without stronger national rules to protect our lakes, rivers and streams we will continue to see our 'clean green' image eroded threatening our agricultural exports.
"Voluntary agreements are not enough to clean up our waterways.
"Dairy cows continue to access and pollute rivers and streams despite a decade of Fonterra's voluntary Clean Streams Accord. A 2011 MAF survey found almost half of Bay of Plenty dairy farms had waterways from which stock were not excluded," Ms Sage said.
"We saw from the Manawatu One Plan decision that the Environment Court does not consider voluntary targets and agreements are enough. They need to be supported by effective Plan rules and land use controls.
"The Government needs to take responsibility and give regional councils the tools they need to protect our rivers, lakes and streams.
"For water quality to improve we need national environmental standards to protect waterways from stock access, limit stock numbers in sensitive catchments and set measurable limits on nitrates and other contaminants. If councils then want to set stronger standards through their plans they can.
"Without strong national policies and standards, the threat of court action will see regional councils caving in to land users with long timeframes and weak Plan provisions," said Ms Sage.