Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Protecting New Zealand's Rivers

Water and water quality is a hot topic at the moment, and the New Zealand Conservation Authority (a statutory body which exists to provide independent advice to the Minister on conservation issues) has stepped up with an issues paper on Protecting New Zealand's Rivers. In it they survey the current legal regime for freshwater protection, find it inadequate, and make a number of recommendations, including:

  • a national inventory of rivers, with the aim of establishing a "representative network" of protected waterways;
  • river protection being vested in a single government agency;
  • better use of existing mechanisms to protect rivers;
  • stronger, longer-lasting Water Conservation Orders, revocable only by Parliament;
  • bringing Canterbury back under the WCO regime;
  • extending ECan's moratorium power to other regional councils;
  • management of crown-owned riverbeds to protect conservation values.
This is a direct challenge to the government's dirty dairying agenda. As such, I expect it to be ignored (that is if they don't try and disestablish NZCA for doing its job too vigorously). But these ideas are not going to go away, and are likely to be a significant influence on the water policy of opposition parties. I expect the Greens are already pillaging the report for a Member's Bill or two...