14 January 2010
Environment Commissioner urges Minister to call in Mackenzie Basin dairying consents
“The risk to the water quality of the area is of such significance, that the Minister for the Environment should call in
these large-scale, dairy operations for consideration,” said Dr Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
The Commissioner sent a letter to the Minister for the Environment yesterday asking him to call in the resource consent
applications for effluent and air discharges, as requested recently by Environment Canterbury.
“I am particularly concerned about the effect of these dairying operations on the water quality of the Ohau and Ahuriri
catchments,” she said. “The combined effluent of these operations would be similar in quantity to a city the size of
Christchurch being located in the Mackenzie Basin.”
A recent report from NIWA suggests that if the amount of nutrients entering Lake Benmore was to substantially increase,
then the water quality of the lake and lower Waitaki River would be likely to seriously deteriorate.
“Such a result would be highly undesirable – especially as this region is popular for tourism and recreation,” Dr Wright
stated. “In addition, Meridian has submitted evidence that there may also be implications for the ability of the Waitaki
Power Scheme to generate carbon-free electricity.“
In her report, Change in the high country: Environmental stewardship and tenure review, the Commissioner recommended that the Minister should call in development applications that are proposals of national
significance due to their potential for significant adverse effects on lakes or outstanding landscapes in the high
“These proposed dairy farms are just the kind of development I envisaged when making my recommendation,” said Dr Wright.