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Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated

Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated and out of date

North Canterbury irrigation Company Hurunui Water Project today rejected claims by Greenpeace that the proposed scheme will lead to large-scale intensive dairying and consequent degradation of the Hurunui River.

“Greenpeace needs to actually read the latest information on the Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposal that they have,” says HWP Chief Executive Alex Adams. “If they had done so, they would have seen the scheme is very different now to the original proposal they seem to be referring to, and that dairy development as a result of the scheme is planned to be to be a minor component.”

Adams said a 2016 survey of HWP shareholders showed the vast majority of the dryland farmers simply wanted irrigation to provide the assurance they needed to continue with their existing farming practice; only some 10 percent indicated that dairy conversions might be an option.

“Ironically,” Adams said, “Greenpeace’s failure to do any real homework on the current status of the scheme means they have put themselves in the position of opposing a scheme that actually contributes toward the longer term responsible and environmentally sustainable farming practices they’re calling for.

“The current unreliability of water supply in the Hurunui district tends to promote a boom/bust cycle where too much water is drawn from the likes of local bores and streams when it is available to compensate for anticipated drier periods later on; a practice that we agree wastes water and can contribute to agricultural run-off.

“But because ours is a storage-based scheme, we can take water when the rivers are in good flows and use that for irrigation in the dry periods, reducing the direct demand on the rivers during low-flow periods. That is an environmental gain. HWP has never contemplated a run-of-river approach taking the Hurunui down to low flows. Our consents require periodic high flows for both environmental and recreational purposes.”

Adams said HWP has been granted consents with some of the most up-to-date and stringent environmental protections of any proposed scheme in the country. The consents were developed following extensive public consultation in the Zone Committee process; there were no appeals against those conditions by any environmental advocacy group.

“Indeed,” he said, “under our current conditions, HWP simply cannot irrigate intensive dairying across the region and still comply with the nutrient loading limitations that the scheme must operate under.”


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