Cantabrians lose out with ECan decision

 The Government’s decision to extend ECan Act provisions until 2016 continues to deny Cantabrians’ right to have a say on how their freshwater resources are managed and is a deliberate move to continue to allow more large-scale irrigation schemes in Canterbury, Forest & Bird says today.

Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Nicola Toki says the Government’s announcement should send alarm bells ringing for Cantabrians. “The Government’s intentions about freshwater were made clear in 2010 when under the Official Information Act, we received documents that showed the driving factor behind the ECan reform and legislation was to accelerate large-scale water storage and irrigation in Canterbury.
 
“Continuing with this structure is not only allowing for the acceleration of inappropriate agribusiness that puts our rivers at risk, but is also denying Cantabrians their basic democratic right to appeal decisions on freshwater management,” Nicola Toki says.
 
“We acknowledge that the ECan Commissioners have worked hard to develop freshwater plans and policies in the region, but there is simply no excuse to take away Cantabrians’ right to appeal decisions on how our water is managed.
 
“Everyone else around the country has the opportunity to challenge council decisions on water management, which often results in better outcomes. The people in Canterbury are getting ripped off,” she says.
 
Concerns about freshwater have consistently rated as New Zealanders’ number one environmental issue according to Lincoln University’s biennial “Perceptions of the Environment” report. It is particularly important in Canterbury, which has 70 per cent of New Zealand’s freshwater resource.
 
“Enough is enough. We have no democracy left in Canterbury, and our people deserve an opportunity to have their say on crucial freshwater issues, in the same way that all other New Zealanders do.”