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Dirty dairy advert makes waves in waterways debate

Opinion Piece

Greenpeace has really touched a nerve with the dairying industry with its controversial advert on dirty dairying in a situation that is reflected here to a much lesser degree in submissions on the district freshwater plan.

Dairying New Zealand is furious at the decision of the Advertising Standards Authority not to uphold its complaint against the ad being circulated by Greenpeace that strongly criticises the industry for the effect it has had on New Zealand waterways.

Announcing that the industry would appeal the decision, chief executive Tim Mackle said the New Zealand public deserved to get a balanced picture.

He again brought out the point that 96 percent or 27,000km of dairy farms have fenced their waterways and said the farmers have spent $1 billion on things like upgrading effluent systems.

Greenpeace spokesman and former joint Green Party leader Russel Norman is pleased the industry failed to block the ad and is confident on winning an appeal. He is correct when he says the furore since the decision has resulted in the message getting out to even more people.

On viewing, there is no doubt that the video is extremely damning but the authority ruled it was factually correct.

The issue of protecting waterways is one of a large number of issues to be considered by the panel that has the huge task of reviewing the submissions on the district freshwater plan.

At the third of four hearings the panel heard conflicting submissions on the best size for riparian setbacks. The recommendation from a section 42 report was for a 1 metre setback but Eastern Fish and Game and other submitters wanted no cultivation within 5m.

There is no doubt that protecting waterways is a burden for landowners. The panel heard from one Matawai farmer with a dozen bridges and 80 culverts on his property.

Fortunately this is not on the same level as big-scale dairying but it is just one of a number of thorny issues the panel have to wrestle with as their decisions on the submissions are awaited.