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Royalty Will Only Incentivise Gov to OK water mining

Press Release – Aotearoa Water Action

Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) spokesperson Niki Gladding says the group hopes revelations in The Press this week, that law firm Davidson Legal was prepared to lobby politicians on behalf of Cloud Ocean Water, have exposed an isolated incident and not the tip …

Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) spokesperson Niki Gladding says the group hopes revelations in The Press this week, that law firm Davidson Legal was prepared to lobby politicians on behalf of Cloud Ocean Water, have exposed an isolated incident and not the tip of an iceberg.

“The disclosure doesn’t make clear what assistance politicians might have been asked to provide to Cloud Ocean, but potentially it could have been expected to extend to RMA consenting processes, given the company required a number of consents,” she says.

Niki says that politicians should never be able to influence the outcome of applications for resource consent– that sort of interference would completely compromise the integrity of our resource management system.

She adds, “These revelations show that political interference in the consenting process is always a possibility and AWA is concerned that the risk of this behaviour would only increase if the Government finds a way to impose a royalty on bottled water.” AWA is concerned that if we go down the royalty road, without a ban on new consents, Government and Councils will be incentivised to green light more bottling plants and create a revenue stream from the industry.

“New Zealanders need to be clear that the Government is not trying to limit or manage the bottling industry – by trying to impose a royalty it’s simply trying to remove a perception of unfairness and generate income. It has defined water bottling as an economic problem and is pursuing an economic solution that will do nothing to protect our limited clean aquifer water or the wider environment from what is an environmentally damaging industry. The Government’s willingness to profit from an industry that generates billions of plastic bottles, and then benefits from deteriorating community supplies is also concerning”

Gladding says AWA is disappointed that charging a royalty seems to be the only solution being touted in the media and by Government and says it represents a clear misunderstanding of the issues. AWA is calling on the Government to prohibit new water bottling consents via its proposed new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. She emphasises that “We have inadequate law regulating both the allocation of our water and overseas investment in land with transferable water permits. Overseas demand for our best water is growing. The only sensible solution is to urgently implement a precautionary approach and ban new bottling consents to preserve New Zealand’s reserves of clean drinking water.”
“I see this as a bit like the housing crisis where for many years people were coming in and buying up our housing stock to make a quick buck because there was nothing in place to prevent them from doing so. Government denied there was a problem until we had people sleeping in cars and unable to afford a home of their own. The same is going to happen with our water unless we regulate to protect it for our own communities and ecosystems. Law makers need to ask themselves what happens when climate change effects lead to reduced aquifer recharge and reduced allocable flows? What happens when there’s not enough clean water in certain regions or when people can’t afford it? What will be the cost of treating contaminated water to make it suitable for community supply? We need the Government to understand and consider all the issues and to take appropriate action now before we face a water crisis. Imposing a royalty without banning new consents is clearly the wrong response to the bottling problem.”

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