Petition on mass irrigation presented to government
Almost 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for the New Zealand government not to back away from its commitment to reduce mass irrigation. While the new Labour-led government has decided to scrap funding for new irrigation schemes, concern remains that some schemes will still proceed under funding from the Regional Development Fund.
The petition was presented by Greenpeace to Environment Minister David Parker and Associate Minister Eugenie Sage outside Parliament this afternoon. Mr Parker said the government would be honouring existing irrigation schemes started under the previous National-led government but would not fund any new ones.
“We should not be subsidising irrigation schemes which we know lead to increased intensity of land use which adds to the problem.” He said there could be a “perfect outcome” for farmers and for water-quality, if New Zealand did not rely so heavily on dairy exports.
“There is an incredible opportunity for New Zealand to move towards highervalue land uses, other than livestock, in parts of New Zealand.”
He added that greater use of technology could foster diversification. “If we can use robotics and sensor technology, our wonderful soil and our growing techniques to bring forward more profitable land uses that have a lower environmental impact we will get richer as a country, the same time we get cleaner.” He was unsure whether new irrigation schemes could be applied for under the Regional Development Fund.
“That’s the conversation we’d like to have with this incoming government.”