After eight hours occupying the Central Plains Waters’ irrigation dam nine people have been arrested by police and removed. All have been charged with trespass.
Greenpeace launched a “lightning occupation” of the dam at dawn this morning after irrigation company, Central Plains Water, threatened Greenpeace with a court injunction to try and shut down planned peaceful protests against the scheme.
“This will not deter us from continuing to stand up for our rivers and peacefully protesting against Big Irrigation” says sustainable agriculture campaigner, Gen Toop.
Among those arrested are several locals, a dairy farmer’s daughter, and a nurse from Christchurch.
Hundreds of Cantabrians are also expected to come along to a Greenpeace organised protest to Save Our Rivers on September 14th. More details will be released soon.
Greenpeace and other groups successfully stopped the proposed Ruataniwha Dam in the Hawke’s Bay earlier this year.
“There is a growing movement standing up for our rivers. Together we have stopped the Ruataniwha dam and we’re now moving our attention to Canterbury, where we will continue to oppose irrigation schemes such as Hunter Downs, Hurunui and Central Plains Water.
The 34-hectare Sheffield Dam, which is part of the huge Central Plains Water scheme, is due to be filled with water this month.
“Central Plains Water tried using legal threats to try and silence public outcry against their massive scheme. When they threatened us with a court injunction this week, we felt we had no choice but to do a lightning occupation of the dam in response,” says Toop.
“New Zealand is in the middle of a national freshwater crisis, our rivers are crashing and these big irrigation schemes that expand intensive dairying will only pollute our rivers even further.”
Toop says “it’s every New Zealander’s birth right to swim in clean rivers and drink pure water, but the Government’s support of big irrigation is taking that away.
Over 90,000 New Zealanders have signed a petition demanding an end to Government funding of irrigation schemes.