Dam decision huge victory against big irrigation

Press release - July 6, 2017
Greenpeace says today’s court decision over the Ruataniwha Dam is a major victory in the struggle against big irrigation and the nationwide intensification of dairying.

Today the Supreme Court has held that an area of conservation land cannot have its protected status revoked to make way for the Ruataniwha irrigation dam.

The Government tried to appeal an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal which in effect meant the land could not be flooded. Today it failed.

The dam would have driven land conversions to intensive dairying and further river pollution. It has faced huge opposition locally and nationally.

“The Ruataniwha dam would have meant more industrial dairying and more pollution in our rivers so today’s court ruling is also a win for our rivers,” says Greenpeace Campaigner, Gen Toop.

"Conservation land belongs to all New Zealanders, not to companies wanting to destroy it for private profit. " she says.
“If the court had allowed the Government to carry out its destructive plans for the Ruataniwha Dam, it would have set a dangerous precedent for New Zealand’s conservation estate had Forest and Bird not stepped up to challenge the Government’s plans.”  

“It also sends a clear message to other irrigation projects around the country,” says Toop. “They will be challenged.”

There are several large irrigation schemes planned being subsidised by the government’s $480 million irrigation fund, like Central Plains Water and Hunter Downs in Canterbury.

Nearly 90,000 people have signed a petition demanding the Government stops funding big irrigation schemes.

Greenpeace is demanding that those irrigation subsidies be spent on a transition fund to more sustainable forms of farming.

The environmental organisation is crowdfunding  to release a new hard hitting TV ad warning people about the risks of intensive dairying and big irrigation.

The last controversial ad attracted complaints from Dairy NZ but they were thrown out by the Advertising Standards Authority.