Environment drives decision to stand

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Queenstown Lakes District Council candidate Niki Gladding says the council’s application to discharge wastewater into waterways was “the last straw”.

”Who in their right mind – parent, businessperson or tourist – would think that’s okay? How is it even an option when communities get their drinking water from these lakes?”

In a press release sent out today, she describes the application as ”preparing for growth at all costs, even the degradation of our lakes and rivers” and says it should be withdrawn immediately.

Citing her science degree and planning background, she says she’s standing for the Wakatipu ward because ”now more than ever, we need a strong voice for the environment and for the community”.

”There is no need for councillors if they consistently defer to ‘expert’ opinion instead of representing the people who elected them.”

Gladding is the co-chair and researcher for Aotearoa Water Action, working with communities to challenge consent decisions that threaten their water.

In the past two years, organisations she founded have taken three water bottling companies and their local councils to court, she says.

”If I see wrongdoing or poor decision-making, I try to fix it or expose it. There are a lot of people actively challenging our council right now. That should be encouraged – we need strong local democracy.”

On growth she says:, “council has acknowledged it needs to do more to protect water quality and it has declared a climate emergency”.

”That’s great, but the decisions coming out of chambers don’t match the rhetoric or align with our communities’ concerns.

”They’re still pushing this self-defeating ‘more bums on seats’ approach to tourism, still talking about the need to meet demand as though we have no option.”

She wants the council to ”be transparent, encourage debate and be genuinely open to input from the community you serve”.

”People here aren’t averse to change, they’re just fighting for the right change.”

Council elections take place on October 12.