22 Feb 2010

Water too politically hot for council - Irrigation NZ

5:53 am on 22 February 2010

The national irrigation body says it's been pleasantly surprised at the outcome of a review of Canterbury Regional Council, which suggests that the Government should remove the council's mandate to manage fresh water issues.

The Government ordered the review because it said it had no confidence the local body could sort out its own problems.

The review advises the Government to install commissioners and look at setting up a new agency to deal with fresh water applications.

Irrigation New Zealand chairperson Graeme Sutton says water has become too politically hot for the council to handle.

He says the current system has not been working and while the council has been trying to turn that around, it is probably unfixable in its present form.

One of the problems, he says, is that most councillors are from the city, but most of the water issues are out in the region.

Meanwhile, Federated Farmers believes the Government should hold off on the recommendation to replace the council with a commission, because it's starting to show improvements under new leadership.

Green Party

The Green Party says people in Canterbury are being punished for electing a regional council that was starting to take action on "dirty dairying".

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the findings of the group that looked at the council are not surprising because the group was led by a dairy company director.

He said the reason the group wants to get rid of the regional council is that it's been cracking down on "dirty dairying".