Labour’s Plan to Cull Irrigation Fund a Watershed Policy for Clean Rivers

Press release - August 9, 2017
Greenpeace have welcomed Labour’s commitment to ditch National’s $480 million taxpayer fund for new irrigation schemes.

“Ditching the irrigation fund is one of the most important things that any political party could be doing right now to protect New Zealand’s freshwater - it is a watershed policy for our rivers,” says Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner, Genevieve Toop.

“Big irrigation drives more intensive dairying, and we already have too many cows in New Zealand. If we’re to save our rivers, we need to stop big irrigation.

“Every New Zealander should be able to swim in clean rivers and drink pure water without fear of becoming ill. The first step to restoring freshwater health is to stop making the problem worse through dairy intensification.”

Labour’s policy states existing commitments will be honoured, but Crown subsidies for the funding of further water storage and irrigation schemes will be removed because they should stand on their own economic merits if they are viable.

Greenpeace has also criticised National’s $44 million river clean-up grants, which were announced yesterday. The largest recipient of the grants was an irrigation dam in the Waimea Valley, which received $7 million.

“National’s so-called river clean-up fund is actually funding big irrigation - one of the root causes of the problem,” says Toop.

“We already have too many cows in New Zealand. Any Government that is serious about saving our rivers must first stop the intensification of dairy and reduce the herd.

“There’s little point in cleaning up rivers while you’re still funding the major drivers of pollution.”