Water pollution a major public concern – Fish & Game poll

According to a poll done for NZ Fish & Game by Colmar Brunton, water quality is a major concern.

Fish & Game:  Water pollution is now New Zealanders’ Number One Concern

The findings are revealed in a nation-wide Colmar Brunton poll conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand in December.

People were asked how concerned they were about a range of issues, including the cost of living, health system, child poverty and water pollution.

I don’t think the poll proves water pollution is the ‘number one concern’. The poll just asked about seven issues and didn’t leave it open for people to nominate issues of concern.

Question: To what extent are you concerned , or not concerned, about the following issues in New Zealand:

The poll was conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand by Colmar Brunton from 5-12 December 2018.  A thousand New Zealanders were surveyed and the results are nationally representative for age, gender and region.  It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Water pollution rates as a major concern (of the issues offered), but is within the margin of error of the cost of living and the health system.

And as presented in the poll options it is more specific than all the other issues.

If asked what concerns you most between equal and access to life saving medical care, or for decent housing or fo\r low mortgage rates compared to cleaner lakes and rivers the results could have been different.

Interesting to see housing rated the bottom of these concerns.

Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor…

…says the survey’s findings show the depth of feeling New Zealanders have about their rivers, lakes and streams.

“Kiwis are extremely worried that they are losing their ability to swim, fish and gather food from their rivers, lakes and streams”.

“People see those activities as their birth right but over the last 20 years, that right is being lost because the level of pollution in waterways has increased as farming intensifies.

Taylor says big agriculture and local government should take note of the fact that the issue is now Kiwi’s top concern.

“While many farmers do understand the need for action and are making the necessary changes to how they use their land, there are still significant numbers who are refusing to follow their example,” he says.

“These laggards are letting down the responsible farmers, undermining farming’s reputation and exhausting the public’s patience.

“They have to be made to change.  This means regional and district councils have to toughen the rules, enforce them and stop making excuses for the environmentally destructive and irresponsible farmers in their areas,” Mr Taylor says.

“More Kiwis than ever are now worried about their rivers and lakes.

“This opinion poll result shows they are fed up and want action on this issue.”

The poll doesn’t actually show that.

Fis & Game will be pleased that the poll they commissioned gave them a result that suited their own purposes, but presenting a poll alongside their own agenda, with misleading claims, is not a great way to do things.

I think that maintaining and improving fresh water quality is important, but so are many other problems.

Environmentalists lobby incoming government

An open letter has been sent to sent to Bill English,  Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw and Winston Peters from environmental groups and lobbyists including Forest and Bird, Greenpeace New Zealand, WWF New Zealand and Fish & Game New Zealand.

It’s not very open, I can’t find a copy online, but NZ Herald reports: Leading environmentalists’ plea to the next Government

“A winner in this year’s election was the New Zealand environment. It featured as a bigger concern amongst the electorate than ever before. All of you through your party manifestos made commitments to improve the state of our environment. We congratulate you for those promises.”

It says there must be a more structured and transparent approach to tackling the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

“New Zealand’s emissions have continued to climb and we need an ambitious plan on how to reduce them. “

They call for a new law to establish a statutory carbon budgeting process overseen by an independent commission to plan, monitor and report on the transition to “net zero by 2050”.

“Anything less betrays this and future generations.”

The letter says a key measure of environmental success will be ecologically healthy fresh waters which New Zealanders are able to swim in.

It also states the unique species of New Zealand are “the jewels in the crown of our national identity” and calls for stronger emphasis on conservation.

Increasing the Department of Conservation’s core budget must be a key component in that strategy, the letter says.

Lobbying was in full swing during the election campaign, and continues as we wait for parties to work out who is going to form a government.

David Parker’s environmental credentials

David Parker has responded to critics with a post at Red Alert, posted in full here:

I seek leave to make a personal explanation …..

Posted by  on July 30th, 2012

I see I am getting a bit of gyp from critics in the blogosphere whose latest fantasy is that I lack an environmental ethic.

Their mistake is they think that a healthy environment stands in opposition to a healthy economy.

I don’t rise to the bait too often, but on this occasion I will bite and lay out my record.

Some of these critics should do their homework.

I am 52 years of age. I tramp, ski, and swim in rivers and the sea. I have been fighting for environmental causes most of my life.

As a lawyer I fought for conservation orders that now protect many of the south island’s rivers including the Mataura, the Buller, the Ahuriri, the Greenstone, the Dart, the Lochy, the von, and the Kawarau.

I am still active in river protection. This year I am appearing pro-bono as an expert witness on energy policy in support of the Fish and Game application to protect the Nevis river from damming.

As Minister of Energy I halted the decline in renewable electricity as a % of total generation, set an objective of 90% renewables by 2025 and put in place a myriad of initiatives to achieve that end. That objective has survived the change to National, and good progress is being made towards it. Together with Jeanette Fitzsimons, I also promulgated the most ambitious energy efficiency and conservation strategy we had ever had, and played a strong hand in the design and funding of the insulation retrofit programme that National continued with.

As Minister of Energy I added substantially to the lands protected from mining by extending schedule 4 protection to all parts of national parks not then protected, including Kahurangi.

As Minister of Land Information I revamped tenure review, helped form a number of conservation parks, including the Otiake Park in the Hawkduns, stopped tenure review around lakes and rebalanced the relationship between the Crown and lessees. National has reversed some of those changes.

As Acting Minister for the Environment I unblocked the national policy statement on freshwater quality. Trevor Mallard continued this work culminating in the very good NPS proposed by Judge Shepherd et al, which was then neutered by National.

As Minister of Climate Change I successfully legislated to price greenhouse gases in all sectors of the economy covering the 6 main gases covered by the Kyoto protocol. New Zealand remains the only country in the world to have achieved that. I was named Environmentalist of the year in 2008 by the Listener for that and other initiatives.
Changes by National and a loss of momentum internationally collapsing the price of carbon have undermined it, but the architecture remains sound. It is Labour’s policy to bring agriculture in to the ETS.

While in government I read about set nets causing the deaths of Hector’s and Maui dolphins. After confirming with Chris Carter that this was intend a serious problem I approached Helen Clark who, with Jim Anderton’s help, vastly expanded the areas where set nets were banned.

I have had high profile run-ins with proponents of lignite developments, including Solid Energy’s Don Elder.
As Labour’s then spokesperson for conservation, I helped lead Labour’s successful campaign against National’s plans to allow mining in schedule 4 National parks, Coromandel, Great Barrier Island etc. For those with a sense of humour, my Christmas interchange with Gerry Brownlee on the issue, in which Gerry starred, remains the most watched clip from parliament.  http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/912

I have spoken often on the need to better protect our albatross and petrels from being killed as by-catch. Similarly, I am a defender of lowland wetlands against reclamation, and against degradation caused by intensification of nearby land use.

I have been a defender of the RMA, while wanting to improve its reputation by addressing some of its arcane and hard to defend processes.

I am happy to stand on my record on environmental matters.

Which is why it annoyed me to be told I am out to lunch on mining issues.

Having a clean environment means making sure we use our natural resources responsibly. It doesn’t mean we stop using all of them.

That’s why, outside of schedule 4 areas, mining applications can and should be considered case by case.

As I said when interviewed, there is legitimate public concern about deep sea drilling arising from the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe and the limitations of New Zealand’s response to the Rena shipwreck. We must ensure that world’s best practice is followed and that the safety devices needed in the event of mishap are available and can be deployed. Even then, it may be that the deepest of wells are too risky and ought not to proceed.

In terms of lignite, I reiterated that Labour believes its use as an energy source using current technology is a dirty greenhouse gas intensive practice. We are also unconvinced it is economic, especially if environmental consequences are included, and have said government money should be  spent on renewables instead.

Our position on developments in the EEZ is that RMA type principles should apply. We sit between the Greens (who would ban most development activities) and National, whose EEZ legislation, while initially supported by the Greens, is inadequate.

We can develop our resources responsibly and make responsible decisions for our future – and a sustainable economy requires it.