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Fonterra expansion bad news for rivers and aquifers

Media release
12 September 2011
Eugenie Sage, Green Party candidate for Selwyn

Fonterra expansion bad news for rivers and aquifers

The increase in dairy cow numbers signalled by Fonterra’s proposed trebling of production at its Darfield milk powder factory will put further pressure on Canterbury’s rivers and aquifers, former regional councillor and Green Party candidate for Selwyn, Eugenie Sage says.

Less than nine months after Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd got resource consents to establish its Darfield factory the company has applied to treble its production.

“Dairying is expanding faster in Canterbury than anywhere else in New Zealand at a rate of more than 5% annually,” said Ms Sage.

“Fonterra obviously believes dairying expansion can continue regardless of rivers and groundwater being over allocated, increasing nitrate levels in groundwater and an already heavily polluted Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

“The expansion of industrial dairying which Fonterra’s Darfield factory represents will exacerbate Canterbury’s water pollution and allocation issues.

“There are environmental limits to dairying’s growth which Fonterra should recognise. We need demonstrable improvements in water quality, and a reduction in nutrient leaching rather than compounding existing problems.”

The Darfield factory can process 2.2 million litres of milk daily. Environment Canterbury and Selwyn District Council this week notified Fonterra’s applications to expand the factory and milk powder store, construct a second dryer, and increase the factory’s wastewater and air discharges. Submissions close on 7 October.

“By not requiring land use consents for new dairy farms Environment Canterbury commissioners and Selwyn District Council are failing to control the dairying juggernaut. They are burdening present and future generations with degraded rivers and streams and an untenable increasing nutrient load on groundwater.

“We need a mixed agricultural economy on the plains not more industrial dairy farms with 700 plus cow herds.

“The National Policy Statement on Freshwater notified by Environment Minister, Nick Smith is ineffectual. It contains no effective policies which require councils to control dairying as a land use, unlike the version recommended by the Board of Inquiry.”

ENDS

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