Irrigation attack – Greenpeace says public frustration about dirty rivers spilling over

Press release - January 18, 2017

Greenpeace says a $40,000 attack on a farmer’s irrigation machinery could be a sign of overwhelming public frustration about polluted rivers.
The environmental organisation is responding to media inquiries following an incident at the weekend.

The police said 44 tyres on three pivot irrigators were slashed with a knife on Richard Subtil's farm in North Otago.

Mr Subtil reportedly believes the action was designed to “send a message” about irrigation in the Mackenzie Country.

In the fight over New Zealand’s dirty waterways, irrigation is being seen as a major battleground.
On one side are those who believe dairying should use irrigation to keep expanding and intensifying.

In the other camp are those who want to save New Zealand’s rivers from more dairy pollution.
The sort of pollution which comes from overstocking and farming cows on marginal land.

“Obviously public fury is running high this summer,” says Greenpeace Campaigner, Gen Toop.

“It is possible that someone has taken out their frustration on this farmer’s equipment. ”

“As a non-violent organisation Greenpeace does not condone such an action.”

“I can understand though, as people see familiar rivers turning to algal soups over summer, how upset New Zealanders are getting that their genuine concerns about their polluted rivers are being ignored,” says Toop.

Mr Subtil, a sheep farmer,  thinks that he may have unwittingly fallen victim to someone who “had an issue with irrigation.”

As New Zealand’s largest environmental organisation, Greenpeace is committed to peacefully opposing plans to build large irrigation schemes across the country used to convert more farmland to industrial dairying.

“The New Zealand public is starting to realise that we can have more cows or clean rivers, but we can’t have both.”

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