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A farcical and unrealistic approach to freshwater management could see ECan’s Plan Change 7 being superseded by government proposals, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“ECan has put a lot of time and ratepayers money into Plan Change 7. The submission deadline (13 September) has come right in the middle of calving, yet many farmers would have made sure to respond, such is the nature of their concern over the implications of these changes on their livelihood and ability to stay on the land.

“As National’s Local Government Spokesperson I question whether this time, effort and stress on behalf of farmers will be wasted if the government pushes through its freshwater proposals which could force another plan change for ECan.

“An intolerable amount of pressure is falling on the shoulders of South Canterbury farmers at the moment. They feel like they are under attack and it’s not hard to see why. The government is wheeling out policy that would have people believe that farmers are the scourge of the environment, which is unfair and just plain wrong.

“Let’s take the emotion out of it, focus on the facts and keep proposals fair and realistic. For farmers to fear that they will go out of business as a result of plans born out of a boardroom is a concern and something the country should be wary of.

“ECan have held public meetings in and around South Canterbury in recent weeks and now the Ministry for the Environment has scheduled a meeting for Timaru on 19 September.

“Farmers have given up a lot of time and put a lot of energy into the various consultation processes and I hope the Minister shows some respect by fronting up to them next week and answering their questions.”

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