“Big companies should no longer be able to get away dumping contaminants into New Zealand’s drains and getting away with it,” ACT Environment and Local Government spokesperson Simon Court says.
“It’s really not good enough that a loophole in the Local Government Act that these companies rely on to escape financial sanction has been known about for nearly two decades.
“Businesses that regularly breach their consents are expecting the environment to soak up their pollution while other responsible businesses are paying the full cost of treatment.
“ACT believes the law must be toughened up so frequent breaches can be prosecuted, sending the signal that polluters should pay.
“Many industries rely on the public waste water system to manage their trade waste, and invest heavily in technology to make sure they comply with consents.
“That investment is often made in tandem with new consent applications, so that the technology can be matched to environmental expectations.
“New Zealand has an estimated $30 – 40 billion deficit in waste water treatment plants and infrastructure.
“Ancient pipes in cities like Auckland and Wellington regularly spill raw sewage into rivers and harbours.
“When ACT supported the Government’s Water Services Bill at First Reading in December 2020, I pointed out that the Bill missed a significant opportunity to manage and invest in waste water, as well as drinking water.
“I stated that the level of investment required to upgrade and repair infrastructure, and to fund future housing and growth, was beyond the capacity of local and central Government.
“ACT believes significant private sector investment will be required to match public sector funding to have any hope of meeting New Zealanders’ expectations about water quality, and to make land available for housing in reasonable time frames.
“But the Government has been silent on whether they will consider private investment in new regional water corporations, which it intends to establish under the Water Services Bill.
“ACT will argue strongly for the Bill to be amended to include better waste water management, and to allow private sector investment when the Bill is returned to the House for debate in 2021.”