Many dream of moving to the country, away from the crowds and hassles of city living.
A few are then surprised and annoyed to discover that they've moved into something akin to an industrial zone, with associated noise, dust and smells.
The neighbour harvests around the clock when the weather's about to break. Feeding out silage causes a temporary stink. And it's so quiet that animals grazing in the paddock next door keep you awake. Not knowing that this is normal, some complain, leaving the farmer to deal with questions from council officers.
This is "reverse sensitivity". A new incompatible activity (usually residential development) is introduced, with the potential to limit the operation of nearby existing activities.
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Newcomers seek to impose unrealistic or urban-based amenity standards on what is essentially a rural production zone. Those engaged in these existing, anticipated and lawfully established activities suffer as a result. With the trend towards rural residential living, reverse sensitivity is an increasingly critical risk to agriculture.
Farming requirements and weather conditions mean it's not always possible to avoid some level of nuisance, even if you follow best-industry practices.
In an ideal world, the effects of an activity are contained within that property's boundaries. In practice that's not always possible. Like when you've just weaned the lambs/calves and they keep up a racket for two days. In such cases (generally intermittent and temporary), the district plan should clearly allow these effects. After all, they're not unreasonable or unexpected in a rural zone.
My favourite example of reverse sensitivity involves a vineyard owner whose neighbour rang every autumn to complain that fallen leaves were blowing into his garden.
But the potential effect of cumulative complaints on a farming business is anything but funny.
Good planning rules help manage reverse sensitivity, including minimum allotment sizes to control housing density and "no complaints" covenants on new developments. Thankfully, most New Zealanders have a basic knowledge of farming life.
And most farmers bend over backwards to avoid annoying the neighbours. So the old maxim of "live and let live" is perhaps just as useful.