Two companies which caused a furore almost three years
ago with plans to milk nearly 11,000 dairy cows in the Omarama
area have gone into voluntary liquidation.
Richard Peacocke, director of Southdown Holdings Ltd and
Williamson Holdings Ltd, confirmed yesterday when contacted
shareholders had decided to enter "solvent liquidation", for
both companies because the process for the dairy developments
had become "too long, too hard".
Mr Peacocke, a Mt Maunganui businessman, became the companies
public face in the debate over plans for widespread dairying
and land intensification through more irrigation in the upper
Millions of dollars were spent on the proposal, resource
consents process and property development, although Mr
Peacocke yesterday declined to be more specific.
Southdown proposed establishing six dairy farms running up to
7000 cows on Glen Eyrie Downs in Quailburn Rd near Omarama.
Williamson Holdings planned three dairy farms with 3850 cows
on 1200ha of Killermont Station land on SH8 it had a purchase
option over, subject to conditions.
The 2135ha Glen Eyrie Downs property, which has a Waitaki
district rateable value of just over $5 million, has been
offered for sale.
According to Companies Office records, both companies went
into voluntary liquidation on May 1, appointing independent
liquidator Stuart Robertson.
In September 2009, both companies sought land-use and
water-resource consents to develop the dairy farms. While
land use was granted, the vital water consents were declined
by an Environment Canterbury panel in November, 2011. That
decision was appealed to the Environment Court.
Mr Peacocke said the resource consents decision had led to
the liquidation and the decision to sell Glen Eyrie.
The shareholders, New Zealanders living in Australia, made "a
commercial decision" on analysing the resource consents
decision and decided the project had "been going on too long
[and was] too hard" and they would do something else.
As a result, Southdown was selling Glen Eyrie Downs.
Williamson only had options on land.
Asked to indicate how much money had been invested in
planning the project and seeking consents, Mr Peacocke
replied: "I could - but I won't".
In 2010, he said "millions of dollars" had been poured into
the project, including $2 million just on removing wilding
pines from Glen Eyrie Downs.
"In the nine years since we started this project, the world
has changed. There are easier ways for my shareholders ... to
make a dollar," he said.
The process for other companies wanting water had not
finished, and faced Environment Court and possibly other
Mr Peacocke said it would be up to the companies' liquidator
to decide what should happen to appeals Southdown and
Williamson had lodged with the Environment Court.
The proposal for widespread dairying development in the
Omarama and Ohau areas caused a national outcry. Some
environmental groups described plans to house the cows in
cubicles as "factory farming".
That was denied by the companies involved, but they faced
more than 5000 submissions on their and others' resource
consent applications for water from the upper Waitaki
At the time, Mr Peacocke said if the two companies did not
get approval for the dairy farms, "we would have expended
considerable capital and the farms will be in a difficult
He said the developments presented "a unique opportunity to
make these land blocks highly productive and create a
positive economic benefit to [the two companies] and the