The Polluters Should Pay | The Jackal

25 Aug 2011

The Polluters Should Pay

Today Environment Minister Nick Smith announced that one of New Zealand's most polluted lakes will receive clean up funding. Lake Ellesmere has become heavily polluted, with little care taken by local farmers, which has resulted in high levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorous from unchecked effluent run off. Fonterra will contributed only $1.3 m of the $11.6 million fund, despite them profiteering directly from the environmental destruction.

National's policy change is a result of recent media coverage on New Zealand’s highly polluted waterways. Although it's a step in the right direction, in my opinion the clean up is simply window dressing to make it appear that National gives a damn about the environment and is finally going to do something about the many years of abuse it has endured. When put into context, $11.6 is a pitiful amount, which will do little to remedy the 90% of lowland waterways that are highly polluted.

Although Environment Southland and the government is partly responsible because they were slow to even accept the problem exists, remiss at enforcing the Resource Management Act and negligent at ensuring intensive farming practices were not problematic, it shouldn’t be the taxpayer who foots the bill.

The clean up of New Zealand's waterways should be funded by those industries that have directly benefited from the years of environmental damage they've caused. After all, it's not as if the public receives any kind of discount from them.