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Friday, March 19

Mackenzie decision a victory, but battle not over yet


The decision to withdraw effluent disposal applications for factory-style dairy farms in the Mackenzie Country is a victory for the green movement, but the Mackenzie is still not safe, the Green Party said today.

“The Green Party raised this issue back in December and a huge public surge in opposition followed,” Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman said.

The Green Party were able to successfully pressure the National Government to call-in the proposals in spite of their reluctance to do so. The cost of the Board of Inquiry process was cited by the applicants as the reason for their withdrawal.

“This is a real and substantial victory for the green movement, for the thousands of people who submitted against the proposals, and for everyone who cares for our country,” Dr Norman said.

“But now we face further challenges. The applicants, and many others, are still proceeding with their applications to take water for irrigation in the upper Waitaki so that many tens of thousands of dairy cows can appear on the landscape.

“These applications will result in a massive loss of biodiversity as the rare tussock ecosystem will be destroyed and replaced by green grass.

“The applications will also result in ground and surface water contamination on a massive scale as cow effluent seeps through the ecosystem and into the alpine lakes in the Waitaki catchment. They will destroy forever the distinctive Mackenzie landscape,” Dr Norman said.

Dr Norman said more action was needed from the Government to protect the iconic Mackenzie country landscape in future.

“The Government urgently needs to put a National Policy Statement in place for the Mackenzie. That would provide a considered plan for the whole region rather than ad hoc decisions being made on a case by case basis.

“This is now urgent as the Upper Waitaki catchment hearings proceed.

“These applications for factory-style dairy farms were only possible because of years of neglect by the previous Labour Government, which looked the other way while dairy corporations appropriated the water and made a mess of large parts of the Mackenzie.

“National has the opportunity to show some leadership by stepping in with a National Policy Statement and cleaning up the mess in the Mackenzie,” Dr Norman said.