Goals similar but methods vary

Controlling our pests is one step to improving the environment, candidates say. Photo: Otago Daily Times
Controlling our pests is one step to improving the environment, candidates say. Photo: Otago Daily Times
Work is ongoing to have high environmental standards in Otago and wider New Zealand, Waitaki electorate candidates say.

Labour candidate Zelie Allan said there were varied environmental issues, including rubbish and waste, air quality, climate change and conservation.

''Conservation is very important, as in protecting our ecosystems to provide food for our native insects and birds and continuing the fight against possums, stoats, weasels, rats, wild cats and hedgehogs.''

Work had been done on all these issues but the tasks begun needed to be completed, she said.

New Zealand First candidate Alexander Familton said the party's policy was a long-term, cross-party accord should be agreed for future progress on the environment, as suggested by Jan Wright, retiring commissioner on the environment.

''Presently environmental improvement is being driven by landowners and needs to be supported by an agreed set of standards and procedures at a national level. A long-term plan, scientifically based outside political fudging, is preferable. We are a small country and must get our best brains to get the best result. The aim would be the highest possible water purity.''

Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said Otago had a beautiful natural environment and the work done in local communities protecting it was essential.

''National intends to increase the Department of Conservation community fund from $4.6million to $10million a year to help community groups in their environmental work.''

For farmers and the environment, the Government's Predator Free 2050 project was an ambitious plan to eradicate possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 that received a minimum of $6million annually.

''National acknowledges the importance of agriculture to our country's economy and we want to continue to support our rural sector, and the environment, with policies that allow the farming sector to grow and prosper,'' Mrs Dean said.

Democrats for Social Credit candidate Hessel Van Wieren said great efforts had been made to look after and improve the environment but there was not enough funding or resources to keep up with the increased population, tourism and land-use intensification.

''[The] Department of Conservation, regional councils, district councils all need to be guided by different approaches through non-contradictory government policy,'' he said.

An example was Hunter Valley Station, where the owner paid a massive price for a right to lease and in addition the Overseas Investment Office approval conditions required an increased stocking rate, Mr Van Wieren said.

''This is absurd. At the head of an iconic New Zealand lake which already has downstream environmental problems, a government agency promotes the very issue we are struggling with ... We definitely need urgent moral, ethical and financial reforms.''

The Opportunities Party (Top) candidate Kevin Neill said he was concerned that at present we subsidised polluters and then paid to clean up after them.

Top intended to set bottom lines of expected environmental performance and demand continuous improvement, he said.

''Top-performing businesses should be no worse off and, ideally, should prosper. Pollution will not be illegal, but any business that cannot meet performance standards should pay for additional pollution they generate. If they cannot afford to pay the true cost of their activity, they will go out of business.''

Greens candidate Pat Wall said the environment was not in a very good state and was degrading at an alarming rate.

''In regards to farming, I feel that in some areas there have indeed been negative impacts, and we need to work smarter moving forward. I agree that farmers care about the land and I know of many stories where farmers are doing great things to make improvements. I am saying that we have put all our eggs in one basket with intensive dairy farming, and it is starting to have negative impacts on the land and water.''

Mr Wall said that, as a country, we needed to think smarter about how we used land, and we should diversify our activities and look for ways to add value but lower the impacts on the land and water.

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