A proposal to take West Coast water and export it in bulk tankers with no public notification shows our environmental laws aren’t strong enough and proposed Government changes will only make that worse, the Green Party said today.
“New Zealanders care passionately about water, and want to be able to have their say on water grabs happening around our country before it is too late,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.
Okuru Enterprises Ltd wants to take glacial water from South Westland and export it overseas using bulk water tankers from Neil’s Beach.
“We shouldn’t be giving away New Zealand’s freshwater for free and without public consultation to private companies who are going to sell it overseas at a handsome profit,” said Ms Sage.
“Okuru Enteprises’ proposed water take would be enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool every 52 minutes; and more than 27 Olympic pools every day - all without paying a cent in resource rental and without the public having a chance to comment.
“The proposal to take water from Mt Aspiring National Park which is in the heart of the South West World Heritage Area. This area is internationally recognised by UNESCO for its outstanding landscape, ecological and cultural values.
“Okuru’s proposal shows West Coast councils are already using the Resource Management Act to prevent the public having a say over what happens to our water. This situation will only get worse under proposed Government law changes.
“By denying the public the chance to have a say and get involved in decisions which affect public land, water and nature, Environment Minister Nick Smith and local councils are tilting the playing field in favour of high impact developments without proper consideration of environmental and other impacts.
“New Zealanders care too much about that state of our environment and our rivers to allow a company to take so much water and to have bulldozers and diggers in public riverbeds and rainforest at Tuning Fork Creek, in the Arawata River and at the Neils Beach with no chance for the public to participate in council decision making,” Ms Sage said.