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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Cabinet discuss cow cubicle proposals

Environment Minister Nick Smith consulted Cabinet today before he makes a decision on factory farming in the Mackenzie Country.The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright has recommended Dr Smith use his power to call in the decision on

NZPA
Tue, 19 Jan 2010

Environment Minister Nick Smith consulted Cabinet today before he makes a decision on factory farming in the Mackenzie Country.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright has recommended Dr Smith use his power to call in the decision on discharge consents, a process which would allow him to short-circuit separate local council and Environment Court consideration.

Prime Minister John Key has previously criticised factory farming and today said there was among Cabinet ministers a "theme" -- likely against the farms -- given to Dr Smith.

Dr Smith had not told Cabinet what he intended to do.

"He is not required and did not offer an opinion on where he would go after the discussion that Cabinet held," Mr Key said.

A decision would be made in the first week of February.

A spokesman for Dr Smith said the minister intended to consult with interested parties before making his decision and he would not comment on which way he was leaning.

The Green Party and environmental campaigners have argued that factory-farming would damage New Zealand's international reputation.

Three companies -- Five Rivers Ltd, Southdown Holdings Ltd and Williamson Holdings Ltd -- want to set up 16 dairy farms and have got initial consents for land use changes covering 8555 hectares of the Mackenzie basin which would allow 17,850 dairy cows to be housed in large sheds around the clock from March to October and for 12 hours a day for the rest of the year. Three farmers have also sought consents for taking water and discharges of up to 1.1 million litres of effluent a day.

Critics say that the farmers seeking consents in a peicemeal way mean the overall project is not properly considered.

Dr Wright has said the applications should be called in because of the risk to water quality particularly in the Ohau and Ahuriri catchments.

The combined effluent of the operations would be similar in quantity to that produced by a city the size of Christchurch.

Dr Smith previously said the ability to use call-in powers may be constrained by the fact the animal welfare issue over housing the cows lay with the Animal Welfare Act, rather than the Resource Management Act, and also because the applications were lodged before the Government's improved resource management procedures come into effect on October 1.

NZPA
Tue, 19 Jan 2010
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Cabinet discuss cow cubicle proposals
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