Lax response to cows in waterways a symptom of Canterbury’s democratic deficit

Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) lax attitude to cows polluting our waterways is a symptom of a council which is more responsive to central government’s agricultural intensification agenda than the public’s concern for the environment and water quality, the Green Party said today.

The comments come on the back of the most recent Environment Canterbury (ECan) compliance report which shows 95 complaints were made to the council about stock entering waterways in 2013 and 2014, with only one resulting in a fine. ECan records also show that it failed to do anything the first time it was alerted to the problem of cattle entering waterways on Lake Station.

“The National Government appointed commissioners in 2010 to replace elected representatives and ‘fix’ the council’s management of fresh water. The report demonstrates yet another example of how this undemocratic solution is not working. ECan is failing to adequately respond to public concern about cattle polluting water ways,” said Green Party Canterbury spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

"New Zealanders should be able to swim in our lakes and rivers, free of pollution from cattle.

“ECan has tools to deter rogue farmers from allowing stock to enter waterways, such as fines and prosecutions, to help protect water quality. But when commissioners don’t have to answer to the public they have little motivation to ensure the tools are being used.

“This blasé attitude by Ecan to taking enforcement action is contributing to our poor national record on water quality; 62 per cent of our rivers are no longer safe to swim in.

“ECan’s unelected commissioners are letting down the people of Canterbury, but because of the National Government’s interference with the democratic process, they are stuck with them,” Ms Sage said.

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