The Government needs to step up to assist in the cleaning up the Westland landfill washout, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“This is a large scale environmental disaster. It’s unacceptable to have rubbish from the disused landfill spewing out into one of New Zealand’s most pristine natural environments.

“I visited the site over the Easter break with local West Coast based National MP Maureen Pugh. What we saw was heart-breaking. It’s so sad to see old rubbish like this in one of our country’s most magnificent natural places. Future floods will see more rubbish washed down river and into the ocean.

“This is a Government that says it cares about the environment, but when action and financial support is required, it is nowhere to be seen. The Council has done what it can as a patch up job. But with more bad winter weather coming soon, a much bigger, costlier solution is required.

“Associate Environment Minister, Conservation Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage needs to step up but she says she won’t. No wonder people are saying this Government doesn’t walk the talk when it comes to environmental issues.

“Some people have described the landfill washout as the biggest environmental disaster since the Rena oil spill.

“Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith told me his council can’t keep funding the clean-up work by itself. Minister Eugenie Sage needs to provide some meaningful financial support right now.

“Ms Sage has options and funding could be made available if she wanted it to be. The fact she hasn’t done anything speaks volumes about her actual commitment to our environment.

“Volunteers have been doing a terrific job trying to pick up rubbish but we can’t rely on the goodwill of small teams of volunteers to sort a disaster of this scale.

“The Government is failing the people of Westland, New Zealand and our environment. It’s time for the Government to stop telling us how much it cares and to actually do something tangible.”

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