Labor's commitment to protecting water quality in the region
LABOR has committed to implementing a robust planning process for new and expanded farms in the region.
They will also open up their $1 billion Regional Water Fund to submissions from the Coffs Harbour area, in order to protect water quality.
The fund is designed to increase quantity and quality of water supplied to regional communities and has been earmarked to help revive rivers like the Richmond River on the North Coast and the Murray-Darling river system.
Shadow Minister for tourism and forestry John Graham made the announcement in Coffs Harbour on Thursday.
"We are calling for applications to the regional water fund from this area due to concerns for water quality in the region,” Mr Graham said.
"This follows the NSW Environment Protection Authority putting a spotlight on the area after examples of misconduct by local blueberry farmers where pesticide and chemical containers were found littered at a local forest posing a real risk of pollution to local waterways,” Mr Graham said.
He says Labor will take a zero tolerance approach to protecting the natural environment and tourism value of the area and look at whether the EPA needs to investigate further the impact of farming on local waterways.
"The EPA has the power and the funding and what we need now is action,” Mr Graham said.
Labor candidate for Coffs Harbour Tony Judge says he wants the agriculture industry to thrive.
"The concerns are real and we have research to show this is happening. The community is not imagining this.
"The whole industry is at risk but we want it to thrive - but it won't if the community rejects it and it loses its social licence,” Mr Judge said.