Thursday, November 24, 2011

Keeping the MacKenzie brown

Last year, plans to destroy the MacKenzie country with industrial dairying were thwarted when the government called in effluent consents, resulting in the applicants withdrawing their applications. But it didn't end there. The farmers shifted their plans, and reapplied to irrigate over 5,000 hectares of one of our most iconic landscapes.

Now, those applications have been denied:

Controversial dairying developments in the Upper Waitaki valley have failed to get irrigation consents.

Environment Canterbury-appointed independent hearings commissioner Paul Rogers announced yesterday that the applications of three companies – Southdown Holdings, Williamson Holdings and Five Rivers – to collectively irrigate more than 5300 hectares of land have been turned down. Their land use consents have been granted. Southdown Holdings director Richard Peacocke – on behalf of all three companies – declined to comment.

And they weren't the only ones. Four other applicants also had their irrigation consents denied yesterday. But the prime driver of this isn't a desire to protect the MacKenzie's natural landscape; it's water quality. ECan has to work with the rules its got, but it is appalling that there is no legislated protection for this landscape, no way of preventing it being colonised piece by piece by a rapacious and dirty dairy industry. If we want to preserve this landscape, if we want to keep the MacKenzie brown, then we need to change that. And the quicker, the better.