Another national group has quit the influential Land and Water Forum in protest at the Government’s freshwater policy.
The Federated Mountain Club withdrew from the think-tank today, with president Peter Wilson saying the organisation would be “pursuing its recreational interests in freshwater in other ways”.
It is the third organisation to abandon the Land and Water Forum (LAWF).
Forest and Bird cut ties earlier this week, saying that the Government’s new freshwater standards had ignored the forum’s recommendations.
Fish and Game quit the forum last year, saying it was being muzzled and could not speak out about declining water quality.
The forum was set up to advise the Government on freshwater issues, and has a diverse membership of scientists, business groups, environmentalists, recreationalists, and iwi.
The Federated Mountain Club’s decision to withdraw could be embarrassing for Environment Minister Nick Smith.
Speaking in Parliament this week, he said important environmental groups like the Mountain Club and others remained members of the forum and did not share the views of Forest and Bird.
Three days later, the Federated Mountain Club informed him that it would be quitting.
It still has 54 members, including several environmental organisations, not including central and local government observers.
Green Party water spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty, however, said it had become untenable for environmental groups to remain in the forum.
“It is supposed to represent all those with an interest in water in this country, from industry to environmentalists.
“But the balance is tipped too much in favour of industry,” she said.
Environment Defence Society chief executive Gary Taylor – whose organisation is a member – said Forest and Bird’s withdrawal, in particular, would hurt the forum.
“But there’s still more than 60 entities left, all of whom remain staunch on the recommendations around the key issues [on freshwater] that are still controversial.
“So we figure that we’re better off defending the forum’s consensus with that weight behind us than jumping out and trying to be a solo voice.”