The Green Party is calling on Bay of Plenty Regional Council to notify Cresswell NZ Ltd and Nongfu Spring’s application to take up to 580 million litres of water annually from Otakiri Springs, so that the community can have a say.
“Bottling companies have consents to take up 23 billion litres of water a year in New Zealand and aren’t paying anything for it," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“Water is a community asset and the public must be involved in the council's decision making.
“The strong public interest in overseas companies taking our purest water for export and potentially depleting local springs means the council should notify the application under the ‘special circumstances’ provision in the Resource Management Act.
“It shouldn’t require the ‘special circumstances’ of substantial public interest in water bottling and export for councils to notify resource consent applications so communities can have a say.
“Nick Smith’s changes to the Resource Management Act have slashed public participation rights. The changes have made it much less likely that councils involve the public, even where resource consent applications affect their neighbourhood and resources they care about like local spring water.
“Green Party policy is for an immediate moratorium in water bottling takes and to put an immediate 10c/litre levy on sales or exports of bottled still and sparkling water, to ensure that companies who profit from sales of our cleanest water are paying for that privilege.
“The revenue would be collected by central government and distributed to regional councils and iwi, which would be used to protect freshwater. We would reinstate funding for programmes that help small communities and marae upgrade their drinking water systems.
“40 percent of New Zealanders depend on aquifers as the source of their drinking water. The Green Party would make protecting the quality and quantity of water in our aquifers a matter of national importance under the RMA,” Ms. Sage said.