Hearing necessary to retain farmer wins

By Regional policy advisor, Tessa Mills, Federated Farmers


Federated Farmers is doing everything possible to ensure the One Plan doesn't pose a real threat to the business viability of the farmers in the region which covers Wanganui, Manawatu, Tararua, Ruapehu and part of Horowhenua.

Most farmers in the Horizons Regional Council area will know the One Plan appeal began in the Environment Court last month. This appeal will determine the plan's final form.

Federated Farmers is doing everything possible to ensure the One Plan doesn't pose a real threat to the business viability of the farmers in the region which covers Wanganui,

Manawatu, Tararua, Ruapehu and part of Horowhenua.

The One Plan also has consequences for the rest of New Zealand. Many other regional councils are watching to see what precedent it could set for other plans.

An inappropriate regulatory regime developed in the Horizons region and applied more broadly would stifle further growth of New Zealand's most important export industries and could seriously constrain existing enterprises.

Federated Farmers acknowledge the importance of maintaining environmental integrity within our productive sectors, but a balance must be struck fulfilling all environment, economy, social and cultural Resource Management Act requirements.

After being notified in 2007, numerous organisations, including Federated Farmers, made substantial submissions on behalf of the productive sector. As notified, the One Plan posed significant challenges for farmers.

Through the hearing process the initial notified plan was significantly modified by the recommendations of a panel of independent commissioners, chaired by a former Environment Court judge, forming the decisions version.

Most of the changes made the decisions version more favourable for primary sector industries, including agriculture. The primary sector welcomed the changes, but they were viewed less favourably by other interest groups, most notably the Department of Conservation (DoC) and Fish and Game (F&G).

Federated Farmers' appeal on the decisions version of the plan focused on making it more practical and workable. However, both DoC and F&G's appeals seek a version closerto what was initially notified. This would result in insurmountable challenges for the primary sector.

Mediation was completed in 2011. Although some matters have been resolved, some substantial matters remain where a mediated resolution has not been agreed by all parties.

It is now time to put the unresolved appeal points in front of the Environment Court. Federated Farmers is taking this very seriously.

At the very least, we seek to retain the gains made for primary sector stakeholders in the decisions version. The key chapters include water, land and biodiversity.

It's critical Federated Farmers put forward a great case to the court outlining why a return to the notified plan is wholly inappropriate so a number of technical and planning experts have been employed to construct a convincing case.

Environment Court hearings are open to the public, so farmers are welcome to attend sessions. All hearings are being held in Palmerston North. The Biodiversity part of the hearing began on March 26.

The Land chapter part of the hearing begins on April 16 and the Water chapters on April 30.

- Hamilton News

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