Rich lister props up failing irrigation schemes, threatens NZ’s rivers
Thurs 14th June, It's been revealed that a rich-lister Gary Rooney looks set to bail out the ailing South Canterbury irrigation scheme, Hunter Downs.
Rooney also bailed out another Canterbury irrigation scheme, the Hurunui Water Project in 2016. The Hurunui scheme is still struggling to find adequate funds.
Rooney’s companies have also profited from several lucrative construction contracts for other irrigation schemes in the region.
"To save our rivers from industrial dairy pollution, tens of thousands of New Zealanders mobilised to oppose Government funded irrigation. The Labour-led coalition Government then responded by putting an end to the Crown Irrigation Fund.
But now, a wealthy construction magnate who stands to profit from constructing big irrigation schemes, is throwing money at failing schemes to keep them alive.
"New Zealanders should have the right to determine what happens to our rivers, not wealthy individuals."
When the Government pulled public funding from big irrigation schemes. They cited environmental concerns as a deciding factor in the move.
A Treasury report on the benefits of irrigation prepared for the Government in 2010 found that most of the economic benefit from irrigation schemes came from the construction activity. And that the cost of irrigation for farmers can exceed the benefits to them. (1)
"It's unsurprising that construction companies desperately want irrigation schemes to go ahead. But big irrigation schemes drive more industrial dairying and our rivers simply can't cope with more cows."
"The only way to stop this scheme, and others like it, is for the Government to step in and ban new dairy conversions and end livestock intensification."
Greenpeace launched a petition last month calling on the government to ban new dairy conversions and end further livestock intensification. (2) The signatures have flowed thick and fast and it has now reached over 28,000 signatures.
(2) Petition: https://act.greenpeace.org/page/23869/petition/1