Budget 2014: Environment spending focuses on water quality

  • 15/05/2014

The Government is teaming up with the Maori Party to improve New Zealand's freshwater supplies.

It also wants to reduce the number of appeals going to the Environment Court by encouraging better decision-making.

Today's Budget sees $20 million pumped into new environmental initiatives, much of it going towards local councils and simplifying the Resource Management Act (RMA).

"The Government has made a commitment to improving the quality of our fresh water, and developing a package of cohesive reform and clean-ups that will lead to more productive and sustainable use of our freshwater resource within a generation," says Environment Minister Amy Adams.

Councils and communities will get $12 million to help manage freshwater resources, while $3 million will be spent implementing RMA reforms.

"The Government's reforms are specifically aimed at improving decision-making at every level, and driving a fundamental shift towards more proactive planning for what we need, and away from reactive decisions through consents and court appeals," says Ms Adams.

Alongside the Maori Party, the Government has also set up the Te Mana o te Wai Fund.

"This fund is intended to help communities to restore their local freshwater bodies through initiatives such as planting, riparian buffers, the use of nitrate inhibitors and establishing artificial or constructed wetlands," says Ms Adams.

The Te Mana o te Wai Fund will cost $5 million over its first two years.

There is also $40 million in the Budget for irrigation projects, paid for out of the Future Investment Fund.

"After the extreme drought most of the country suffered last year, and the one earlier this year in Northland and Waikato, the need for better water storage is obvious, "says Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

He says only 2 percent of New Zealand's rainfall is captured and used for irrigation, and this can be improved.

The money will go to Crown Irrigation, which last month put $6.5 million toward the Central Plains Water Scheme in Canterbury.

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source: newshub archive