Concerns native plants, precious wildlife will be wiped out by Mckenzie country dairy farm

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Murray Valentine has had a dairy farm 15 years in the making after purchasing land in Mackenzie country, in the South Island, in 2003.

The area in the south of the South Island has some of the country’s most precious wildlife and native plants.
Source: 1 NEWS

After several court battles, his dairy operation is now underway.

However, Forest and Bird regional manager Jen Miller says the development is "entirely inappropriate".

"It's actually a national tragedy, what's occurring," Ms Miller said.

The debate is whether the land Mr Valentine puts those cows on should be irrigated or preserved.

Graham Smith, the Mackenzie country District Mayor, says Mr Valentine has done everything by the book.

"What Murray has done is meet the consents as such and we have just formed an alliance between LINZ, DOC, ECAN, Waitaki District Council and ourselves to get on the same page as far as consents and protecting our landscapes," says Mr Smith.

Some of the opposition, however, is not convinced.

"The reason why a lot of the development has occurred is that many of the agencies that are responsible for its protection have failed to do their job," Ms Miller said.

"I've been slightly amazed at some of the groups that have come out now, without being in touch with us," Mr Smith said in response.

There are concerns that native plants and precious wildlife will be wiped out, but Mr Valentine disagrees.

As part of Mr Valentine's agreement with outside parties, he will be leaving 2500 hectares of his land untouched for conservation purposes.

"I don't think it will affect bird life to any great degree. Some birds like water," Mr Valentine said.

A lot of the argument by critics is how much of the farms the public see, but Mr Valentine said if you're not looking for them, you'll struggle to see any changes.

"When you're losing species, you've lost species, whether you see them or not doesn't make any difference," Ms Miller argued.

Greenpeace is concerned about a massive pipeline on the farm, saying it'll help discharge nutrient pollutants into waterways.

"I don't think any of our nutrients will end up in those areas, because we'll monitor it," Mr Valentine said.

The accountant won't disclose how much he has spent on the operation, although it's clear he wants to see it through.

"They're certainly entitled to their view, and I try to answer all of the questions and make sure it's an informed discussion, rather than people just making statements that aren't actually true."

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