Monthly Archives: February 2016

Is Fonterra Seeing the Light?

by Jeanette Fitzsimons

Several new Fonterra plants have been officially opened in the last week or two, though they have all been running for a few months. Together they suggest the company may finally be giving some weight to the “value” component of its mantra, “Volume, Value, Velocity”.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.09.03 amWe have criticised Fonterra in the past for its push for more, more and more milk, leading to farm intensification, more water pollution and more greenhouse gases. So it’s only fair we issue a cautious bouquet when they balance that with added value.

Bill English has just opened the new Reverse Osmosis plant at Edendale, the largest dairy factory in the southern hemisphere. Reverse osmosis is a widely used technology which purifies water or concentrates liquids by passing them through a membrane under pressure. Continue reading

Of Monkeys, Mr Burns, Mokau South and the RMA

As The Simpsons taught us, if you give enough monkeys enough typewriters and enough time, they will eventually produce Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”, or a pretty close approximation:

I can now add a rider: even if the cruel Mr Burns introduced zero-hours contracts, removed half the typewriters and banned bananas from the workplace, the monkeys would still produce work of better quality than Mokau South Resources’ application to strip-mine the Mokau River catchment for coal.

It beggars belief that, as the world’s hottest year ends and another hot year begins, anyone would even consider opening a new coal mine. It beggars still more belief that an application that fails to meet so many of the requirements of the Resource Management Act would be allowed to get to the point where it will be seriously considered.

But what’s even more incredible is that the Resource Management Act explicitly prevents us challenging fossil fuel projects on the basis of their contribution to climate change – and in case you think we’re having a go at National yet again, that explicit exclusion of climate change from the RMA was a decision by the last Labour Government. Thankfully, there are now moves afoot to remedy this, not least by the RMA’s author.

Even without the use of this key argument, however, there are so many things wrong with Mokau South’s application and their plans that the many people who responded to our call for submissions had plenty of arguments to choose from: such as the complete inadequacy of the applicant’s ecological assessment, their failure to carry the required iwi consultation, and their cavalier attitude to the effects mine effluent can have in a major water catchment.

In its story on Mokau South, Radio New Zealand chose to portray the Sampson brothers, who are behind this application, as dear old duffers who just wanted their lifetime dream of owning their own coal mine to be granted. But that’s not a thing anyone should want on their bucket list. There is nothing cute, funny or touching about people who want to rip apart an area of regenerating native bush and put a major water catchment at risk just so they can have a crack at making climate change even more disastrous.

So thanks to everyone who submitted by the closing date of 2 February. When we know the story with the hearing on this application, we’ll keep you posted. Although the Mokau South resource consent application reads like it was typed by a roomful of monkeys, the threat it poses is serious, and with our friends in groups such as Waikato Climate Action and Climate Justice Taranaki, we’ll be putting in serious work to stop it.