Horizons seeks mediation

By Laurel Stowell

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Dr Nic Peet.
Dr Nic Peet.

Horizons Regional Council would like mediation in its dispute over One Plan implementation with environment groups, strategy and regulation manager Nic Peet says.

The council would be looking for areas of agreement with the groups, he said, and wanted a formal mediation.

Gary Taylor is the CEO of the Environmental Defence Society, which, with Fish & Game, is asking the Environment Court for a ruling on whether the way Horizons has been giving consents for intensive farming is consistent with the Resource Management Act. He said the groups did not favour formal court-assisted mediation.

"We think in the circumstances it's best to get the issues before the court as soon as possible and get a decision. It's obviously in everybody's interests to get the law clarified," said Mr Taylor.

Former Horizons staffer Greg Carlyon, who helped write the One Plan, said the parties had tried to reach agreement for the last six months and that mediation was unlikely to help.

Other parties who want to join the court proceedings have until 5pm on Friday to register their interest. Mr Carlyon expects Federated Farmers and others will join, as they did the last time the One Plan was in the Environment Court.

The court action may be causing confusion and doubt among farmers, but the council is still issuing resource consents.

There was little likelihood people would have to redo them as a result of the court action, Dr Peet said.

The council has taken legal advice about what it can do if people refuse to get resource consent.

A decision by the Environment Court could make Horizons revisit the One Plan, and begin a long legal process.

Dr Peet was disappointed about that, because he said the council had been making steady progress on implementing the One Plan for three years.

"The frustrating part for the council is that we've seen significant nitrogen reductions."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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