Greenpeace has used six tonnes of dairy sewage to blockade ACC’s multi-storey building in the middle of Wellington.
Just after 6.45am, six thousand litres of cow urine and other dairy waste, sealed in eight heavy-duty tanks, were placed across the two main entrances into ACC’s offices on Molesworth Street in an escalating row over the government department’s link to the controversial Ruataniwha irrigation scheme in Hawke’s Bay.
Critics of the scheme say that large-scale irrigation projects lead to industrial dairy expansion, which leads to increased river pollution.
Three signs saying ‘Save Our Rivers’ are adorning the near-tonne containers, alongside warning signs signalling the contents.
The tanks, known as IBCs, or intermediate bulk containers, are industrial containers specifically designed for transporting and storing large amounts of liquids.
Big investors, including Ngai Tahu and Trustpower, have deserted the Ruataniwha scheme, leaving government departments, such as ACC, to plug the multi-million dollar funding gap if the project is to be completed.
Last month, a report commissioned by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council examining the economics of the irrigation plan revealed that costs have climbed significantly, and are set to soar to over $900 million.
Genevieve Toop, Greenpeace’s agriculture campaigner, said: “ACC looks set to throw away millions of dollars on the controversial Ruataniwha dam which will pollute our precious rivers. And that’s just taking the piss.
“So we’ve blockaded ACC’s offices in Wellington today with six tonnes of dairy sewage, including cow piss, in large, sealed containers. Millions of tonnes of pollution ends up in our rivers via cow piss already. And this pollution will only get worse if government departments like ACC throw taxpayers’ money at irrigation schemes like Ruataniwha that expand the industrial dairy sector.
“Ecological farming is much better for our rivers, our land and our international reputation. It’s this that the government should be backing, not some failed industrial agriculture model which is polluting our rivers.”
Over 20,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition calling on the government to stop funding industrial scale irrigation, like the plans at Ruataniwha and the Central Plains Water Scheme in Canterbury.
Earlier this week, Greenpeace took out a full-page advert in The Press newspaper targeting Central Plains Water, and calling for the scheme to be dropped.