A war of words has broken out between Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon and the chief executive of Fish and Game over the council's environmental record.

Martin Taylor labelled Gordon "out of step" while saying "Horizons has failed miserably to implement the One Plan", the council's set of environmental rules and regulations.

Last year the Environment Court found Horizons had been issuing consents for intensive farming illegally and against it's own rules.

Gordon said Taylor's comments "absolutely" felt like an attack.


"He accuses me of being out of touch, but I live in this region and I am in touch with what's happening in our waterways on a day to day basis," Gordon said.

"I do not agree with any of it. Our success speaks for itself, we've been to the New Zealand River Awards every year and we're the highest achieving region in the country."

Gordon took particular umbrage with Taylor saying the Manawatū was classed as one of the Western world's dirtiest rivers as a result of Horizons failing to implement the One Plan.

"Using that slogan nowadays, he's 10 years out of date and it's time to catch up. That was on one account on one day and it was never substantiated at all," Gordon said.

"Ten years of work has gone into a huge amount of projects, the last clean-up money we got from the government achieved over 40 million dollars spend on the Manawatū alone."

He pointed to measurable improvements in the river, in E. coli, nitrogen, phosphorous and water quality.

He said Horizons does enforce compliance, and there are have been five prosecutions for environmental offending, with three region wastewater treatment plants that may be subject to further regulatory action.

Gordon did admit that he was not happy with how One Plan was going in respect of consents for intensive farming. Those rules need revising, he said.


"I'm absolutely not happy with it, I don't think anybody could be, but there's a paper coming to council in November to start the change process for the One Plan," he said.

"It's going to be a long process, for anybody doing a plan change, it's not something that can happen overnight and it's a huge cost to the region."

Gordon has met Taylor only once, at a meeting held in Wellington in late June that was also attended by the chief executive of the Environmental Defence Society Gary Taylor and Environment Minister David Parker.

Parker called it to look for a way forward, because he knew there was a long-term legal issue between the parties, and that it had reached a stalemate.

"That was a without prejudice meeting, that one with Minister Parker, so I can't comment on any of that," Gordon said.

It was the first time he had ever met the new CEO of Fish & Game. Taylor has yet to visit the region to see and hear efforts the regional community is making toward water quality improvement, Gordon said.

Both Fish & Game and the Environmental Defence Society have been asked to visit the council, but those invitations have never been taken up.

"I think there's a political game here and I think a lot of this is being led by the fact that we've got a byelection coming up in Palmerston North."