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Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says urban New Zealand must realise they too are in the gun with the Governments Essential Freshwater Discussion Documents.

“There has been much discussion about the heavy-handed approach the Government is intending to take with its new water policy - with farmers bearing the brunt of the cost.

“However, I am concerned not enough has been made of the inevitable flow-on effects it will have on urban New Zealand and rural towns and communities like Oamaru.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Conner stated in Parliament that the cost to farmers of meeting the Government's proposed new water policies would be just 1-2 percent. However, LandCare has estimated the drop in farm revenue for a case study catchment would be more likely decline by between 7 and 46 percent.”

"Another Local Government report has found that over half of other catchments would need to be converted to permanent forestry to achieve the policy’s bottom lines.

“There can be no doubt agricultural towns will be hit hard by this proposal.

“Firstly, rates will rise, as local councils spend the next five years investigating how best to meet these strict Government requirements, then the job of policing and enforcing the new regulations will escalate costs. 

“Town water and wastewater infrastructure will also have to be upgraded at another cost to the ratepayer, while town streams and waterways will also have to be fenced off. 

"There will also be an immediate drop in the local economy as farmers can no longer afford to support local businesses, while food prices will rise at the supermarket.

“The report also shows an increase in permanent forestation, as farmers are forced to plant trees as their existing land-use is no longer viable. This means workers will lose their jobs, families will leave communities and immediate local exports will shut down.

“Waitaki people need to realise this is not just a farmer issue. The flow on effects of this policy will be far-reaching and will have a direct impact on local livelihoods.

"I urge everyone to take the time to have a closer look at MFE’s Essential Freshwater Discussion Document to understand its broad implications."

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