Famous environmentalist calls New Zealand 'like a beautiful person with cancer'

Dairy cows in a paddock.
Dairy cows in a paddock. Photo credit: Getty

A famous British environmentalist has hit out against New Zealand's clean-and-green brand overseas.

NZME reports Sir Tim Smit, a co-founder of eco-tourism initiative The Eden Project, told the Country, Land and Business Association Redefining Farming conference that New Zealand had several environmental issues and the dairy industry was to blame.

The Eden Project has a similar initiative based out of Avonside in Christchurch, Sir Smit chose to single out that area for criticism.

"We are working in the red zone, in Christchurch," he told the audience, in a recording provided to NZME.

"You know, what is the brand New Zealand guys? You know, it's the oldest advertising thing for a place in the whole of the world - Pure New Zealand.

"It's so pure that the people of Christchurch won't even swim in the River Avon."

Sir Tim claimed most of New Zealand's lakes were full of algae and blamed a dairy industry growing without strategy, reported NZME.

"It is like a beautiful person with cancer," he said. "The only strategy was to satisfy consumers in China with a dairy product, which is ironic for a lactose-intolerant people.

"So, with global warming, more rain, but focused in a short period of time, loads of nitrates to make the grass grow faster, because cattle need it faster than sheep, and all of the nitrates go in the river."

Newshub.