Freshwater rescue plan's polluter pays policy wanted for Auckland

Marnie Prickett (left) says at the moment businesses and councils can pollute "willy nilly". She says there needs to be ...
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Marnie Prickett (left) says at the moment businesses and councils can pollute "willy nilly". She says there needs to be an incentive to innovate and change infrastructure.

A national freshwater plan is advocating for a 'polluter pays' policy to be enforced in Auckland.

Earlier this month political parties were urged to adopt a seven-step plan to help address the country's freshwater quality issues.

The plan, put together by tourism, science, health, recreation and environment organisations, recommended a 'polluter pays' policy was adopted by councils, making organisations financially responsible for pollution.

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty says her party has backed the polluter pays policy for years.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty says her party has backed the polluter pays policy for years.

Choose Clean Water was one of the organisations involved with the plan. Its spokesperson Marnie Prickett said there were not strong enough consequences in place to deter Auckland polluters.

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​"At the moment if you can pollute willy nilly, there's no incentive to innovate and change your infrastructure."

The Opportunities Party deputy leader Geoff Simmons says a polluter pays policy would help stop discharge into ...
CATRIN OWEN/FAIRFAX NZ

The Opportunities Party deputy leader Geoff Simmons says a polluter pays policy would help stop discharge into Auckland's harbours.

Auckland Council's Healthy Waters strategy and resilience manager Andrew Chin said a polluter pays scheme would be difficult to implement because of the complexity around monitoring all pollution incidents, particularly if the activity did not require a resource consent or was from scattered sources.

"For example many suburban houses contribute contaminants into the stormwater system, whether it be heavy metals from vehicle washing or sediments and nutrients from landscaping activity."

While environment minister Dr Nick Smith said the Government would not adopt the plan, calling its proposals "simplistic" the Green Party's water spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said it supported the policy.

"It's been our policy for a number of years," Delahunty said.

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The Opportunities Party was also behind the policy and deputy leader Geoff Simmons said it could be implemented in Auckland.

He said the policy would help stop discharge into streams and the city's two harbours.

He said a policy hadn't been implemented so far because people didn't like change and there was a misconception that it would cripple the economy.

The plan also recommended council report to the Ministry for the Environment four times a year.

The Ministry for the Environment had very little information on how well local government was doing in enforcement, breaches and monitoring, Prickett said. 

"It's important that the public knows there are solutions to this problem, that we don't have to accept the continuing degradation of water quality and the government has a huge role to play."

 - Stuff

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