Dairy danger to environment in deleted chapter

Last updated 22:40 10/02/2008

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The deletion of a chapter critical of dairy farming in the recently released State of the Environment report adds weight to calls for such studies to be done by an independent body, the National Party says.

On Saturday, Greens co-leader Russel Norman released a previously unpublished chapter from the State of the Environment report, which he said had been removed due to the influence of powerful lobby groups and government departments.

The 13th chapter was originally intended to be published as part of the report, but was pulled some time toward the end of last year. It pointed to industrial dairying as the largest cause of environmental decline in New Zealand.

National's environment spokesman Nick Smith said the suppression of the chapter showed such work needed to be prepared by the independent parliamentary commissioner of the environment.

"It is of serious concern that a critical chapter in this report - on the impacts of agriculture - was deleted. These issues are of real concern and need addressing, and Labour is mistaken if it believes they can be swept under the carpet."

The ministry defended the removal of the chapter. Todd Krieble, general manager for reporting and communications, said the edited material contained policy recommendations, but the report was supposed to be a technical report that would be used to develop policy.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said he had no involvement in the decision to remove the chapter and had not seen it.

The wider report did cover the problems of land-use intensification and dairy farming, she said.

Dr Norman said the most likely reason why the chapter was pulled was because all those with vested interests, including lobby groups and other government departments that were involved in producing the report, would not like the warnings it contained. NZPA

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- The Dominion Post

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