Here an idea for Hawke’s Bay …

Rural News reports that National’s candidate in Palmerston North has asked Environment Minister Nick Smith for an inquiry into the activities of the Palmerston North City Council, as well as the area’s Horizon Regional Council.

She’s concerned that the city council is regularly breaching its consent to dump effluent into the polluted Manawatu River, and the Regional Council is just as regularly failing to enforce the consent and prosecute.

The Minister is mulling over the request, according to Rural News.

Why does this situation sound familiar?

Hmmm. Could it be because the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council (CHBDC) is continually violating the discharge limits in its existing consent to dump effluent into the Tukituki … while the HB Regional Council stands by sucking its thumb?

Hmmm. Or could it be because meat processor AFFCO continues to discharge massive amounts of processing effluent into the Wairoa River, far exceeding the limits of its outmoded existing consent (to the dismay of the District Health Board) … again, while the HB Regional Council fumbles around for months ‘negotiating’ with the company to try harder? (AFFCO is awash in profit but too cheap to make the needed clean-up investment.)

A few days ago, responding to an Auditor-General report on other regional councils, the HBRC hurriedly issued a media release assuring us that our elected Council doesn’t get involved in enforcement decisions … these are left to staff. Horse manure. I’ve sat through numerous Council meetings where enforcement matters are discussed and staff is given direction … informally of course.

Our Regional Council is soft on enforcement. And that rests squarely with the Councillors. They would rather be best mates with CHBDC and the likes of AFFCO, hardly a poster child for corporate responsibility.

I say … bring on Nick Smith. Ask the Environment Minister to figure out why we need a Regional Council that can’t or won’t do its job.

C’mon Craig Foss and Chris Tremain, he’s your Minister, why don’t you follow the lead of your Palmy colleague? Invite Smith to ‘inquire’ into the sorry state of clean water enforcement in Hawke’s Bay.

Tom Belford

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