“Figures collected by ACT show the avalanche of consents David Parker is going to inflict on councils to meet Freshwater Farm Plan requirements, his only option is to extend the deadline,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Documents obtained by ACT through Official Information Act requests show that Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has approximately 3,200 farms that will need resource consents, many of whom will require multiple. Despite this, ECAN has only received one application.

“The documents also show that of the estimated 3,500 farms that intensive winter graze in Southland, only three resource consents have been issued by Environment Southland for intensive winter grazing in the last five years.

“Meanwhile between Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Greater Wellington, Marlborough, West Coast, Nelson, and Tasman Councils, zero resource consents have been issued for the estimated 3,900 farms that intensive winter graze in these areas.

“Minister for the Environment David Parker has previously told me in Parliament that he would consider an extension but couldn’t commit because he doesn’t know the scale of farmers affected.

“Well now he knows, and he must surely realise there is no other option than to issue an extension.

“After repeatedly asking Minister Parker in Parliament to implement an extension, ACT last week sent him a letter asking once again for an extension, in light of the new information showing the scale of the problem.

“It is impossible for councils to work through that many resource consents in time. What’s more, farmers haven’t made the applications because they’ve been focussed on trying to get farm plans in order, but with the November 1st cut-off date fast approaching it’s estimated more than 40 per cent of farmers have been unable to get a plan formulated.

“The Government has failed to do its job and get freshwater farm plans implemented in time. Now thousands of farmers who have been trying to do the right thing are left in a position where there only hope is a costly resource consent which councils are not equipped to process in time.

“What does the Minister want farmers to do? Should they plant their crops without any guarantee of consents and risk not being able to graze them next year? Or would he rather they don’t plant their crops and create a massive animal welfare and food production issue just because he doesn’t want to implement an extension?

“ACT is the loudest voice in Parliament when it comes to standing up for the rights of rural New Zealand. As a dairy farmer myself, I know that farmers are best environmentalists around. We kept the economy going through Covid. It’s time the Government gave us a break.”

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Mark Cameron