The Green Party today welcomed news that the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has won a High Court case challenging factory-style dairy cubicle farms in the Mackenzie country.
"It is great news that the land use consents for these farms have been quashed by the High Court." Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said.
"It shows that the Waitaki District Council failed to look after this iconic landscape when it granted the consents in the first place.
"EDS deserves massive congratulations for successfully taking this case to the High Court on behalf of the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who expressed concerns about these farms," Dr Norman said.
Today's news follows the earlier withdrawal of effluent disposal consents for the cubicle farms after they were called in by the Minister for the Environment under pressure from the green movement.
"The EDS case focused on the effect the proposed farms would have had on the fragile tussock grasslands and ecosystem of Mackenzie Country. Today's decision means a welcome reprieve for this iconic landscape from the threat of intensive agri-business.
"It is also great news from an animal welfare perspective. These farms would have housed nearly 18,000 dairy cows in sheds 24 hours-a-day for eight months of the year. The thousands of people who made submissions on the effluent consent applications earlier this year sent a very clear message that factory-style farms are not okay in New Zealand."
However, Dr Norman noted that that these consents were only a small fraction of the 100 or so consent applications currently making their way through the system.
"If these other consents are approved, it will be disastrous for the biodiversity, water quality, and landscape of the Mackenzie," Dr Norman said.
"As EDS has noted, there has been a policy failure at all levels: John Key's Government hasn't provided clear guidance, and regional and district councils have failed to protect nationally-significant landscapes and waterways.
"New Zealanders love the Mackenzie Country and they want to see it permanently protected. We still need an enduring solution such as the proposed Drylands Park or a National Policy Statement on the Mackenzie Basin.
"These things are the responsibility of Environment Minister Nick Smith and I urge him to take them seriously. If he was prepared to call in the effluent consents earlier this year, he should be prepared to find a way to permanently protect the Mackenzie Country and prevent factory-style dairy farming forever."