An action group against an inland port at Whakatu is calling for a moratorium on development in the Heretaunga Plains Zone.
The Save Our Plains action group, which includes growers and farmers John Bostock, Paul Paynter, Michael Donnelly and Richard Gaddum, says there has been "overwhelming support and strong reaction" to the group's recent publicity.
But it's not just the inland port they oppose.
"It is just one of many proceeding developments on the plains along with recent approved resource consents given to the likes of the Rymans Rest Home on Te Aute Rd, the proposed Howard St development and there's bound to be more, such as the Brookvale residential development in Havelock [North]."
The group said Hastings District Council is "bound by" the 2017 Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) - a joint strategy by HDC, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Napier City Council.
"Until that is changed, this uncontrolled spread of urban and industrial development slowly sprawling over the plains is difficult to constrain.
"We believe that the only way to halt this unsustainable vandalism is by putting a moratorium on any applications and resource consents for new developments until rules are put in place to protect our incredible soils for generations to come. This has got to be implemented now."
Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham said the strategy for the plains had to be reviewed.
"All the region's leaders are in agreement.
"We simply cannot continue the existing creep into the fertile soils of the plains like we have been doing for the past 100 years."
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the council "fully supports the need to protect our fertile plains for food production".
HBRC acting group manager strategic planning Ceri Edmonds said a moratorium would require change to national legislation or local planning documents under the Resource Management Act – "neither is immediate".
The HPUDS "focuses on a preferred settlement pattern that will lead us to compact development" she said.
"To get there we will include a transitional period which will gradually restrict urban development boundaries allowing for proper planning and design work.
Edmonds said the strategy would be regularly reviewed and monitored. A review will start next year.
She said a new national policy statement on managing highly productive land is expected from the government soon.
"Some forms of development may be appropriate, but needs to be mindful of the highly productive land. A re-balancing of needs and priorities is necessary."
Hazlehurst said HDC is "thinking differently" about where people will live in the future, such as more inner-city living in the Hastings CBD, so productive land was kept for food production.
The council was also developing a Heretaunga Spatial Plan to understand growth needs and where it could happen on poor soils.
She said the council met the action group in March and was "united on looking at all ways to protect our fertile soils".
The group said since raising their concerns with the councils and public "all local government entities" are now listening to their message.
"The bureaucracy behind the scenes has to be pulled into line and conform and adhere to the new way of thinking on how we proceed from here in a new direction.
"All three councils have shown a willingness to work with us which is positive, so we shall see if the rhetoric is genuine."