The Waikato Regional Council (WRC) is failing to protect the Waikato River and the communities who value it from increasing pollution, by allowing Landcorp’s upstream dairy conversions to continue and allowing others to take place without resource consent, the Green Party said today.
WRC councillor Alan Livingston and Chief Executive Vaughan Payne were questioned by the Primary Production Select Committee at Parliament today in response to a petition by Green MP Catherine Delahunty calling for a moratorium on Landcorp’s conversion of 20,000 hectares into dairy farms in the Upper Waikato.
“The Waikato river will continue to suffer pollution from dairy farming for at least the next seven months because no changes to the regional plan are likely that would require dairy conversions to need resource consents before then,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“WRC could change the regional plan so that dairy conversions require a consent from outset, and tighten up on rules around effluent discharge into the river.
“WRC admitted that the river is compromised, but is sitting on its hands waiting for the collaborate stakeholder group to come up with a solution and make changes to the regional plan.
“In the meantime, the Council is allowing Landcorp to continue to convert farms and is simply opting-out of taking action on any new conversions.
“So much work is being done by farmers, iwi and community groups to restore the river to health, so that it will sustain life for generations to come. Yet by allowing these farms, WRC have undermined their efforts, and seem happy to sit by while the river is made a dumping ground,” said Ms Delahunty.