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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
2 mins to read

Boom times for Canterbury dairying, Fonterra wants more

Chris Hutching
Fri, 16 Sep 2011

Fonterra wants to ramp up processing volumes at its planned $150 million milk processing plant at Darfield.

Last Saturday the company advertised resource consents applications to modify conditions to the earlier consents it obtained last least year.

It wants to increase production from its milk powder plant from 16 tonnes per hour to 30 tonnes per hour. It has also lodged applications to increase air and water discharges

Dairying continues to expand at a faster rate in Canterbury (estimated 5% a year) than any other region, facilitated by liberal rules within regional plans and speeding up of resource consenting, overseen by Environment Minister Nick Smith’s appointed commissioners to the regional council.

At the same time, Mr Smith has allocated $11.6 million to assist in the cleanup of Lake Ellesmere south of Christchurch, one of the most polluted lakes in the country from agricultural runoff. The $11.6 million may be used to buy some properties around the lake edge.

But the move seems to contradict the January intervention by Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson and Agriculture Minister David Carter over the Department of Conservation’s attempts to retire a grazing lease on the verge of Lake Ellesmere. The Greenpark farmer successfully obtained the intervention of the ministers to renew the lease for another five years.

When asked this week how the $11.6 million squared up with the actions of the Conservation and Agriculture Ministers, Mr Smith told NBR that there had been a risk the farmer could have taken legal remedies. Mr Smith said there were no plans to use any of the $11.6 million for the benefit of the farmer. He said that the lease area was relatively small and the lease would run its term.

Another programme promoted by Mr Smith is the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, a “collaborative” process of regional council-appointed zone committees which consider new and large irrigation dams on the major Canterbury rivers.

The regional committee of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy held its latest meeting on Tuesday when it discussed a number of these projects (http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/Council/rwc-agenda-130911.pdf).

Among the ventures discussed was the overturning of a Water Conservation Order on the Rakaia River to allow a Trustpower proposal to go ahead. Another was a massive scheme to dam the Lees Valley at the popular Ashley Gorge. The costings in a study provided by John Bright of Aqualinc were between $1 billion and $2 billion.

An environmentalist who has been involved in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, and a Green Party candidate for the general election, Eugenie Sage, questioned why money and time was being wasted writing reports on schemes that even most committee members believed were a fantasy because of their cost and logistical challenges.

Chris Hutching
Fri, 16 Sep 2011
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Boom times for Canterbury dairying, Fonterra wants more
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