Some Rotorua landowners looking for ways to reduce their nitrogen output say they have been delivered another blow after learning they may no longer be able to subdivide their land.
In the new Rotorua Lakes Council District Plan, the minimum size of land plots that can be subdivided without a resource consent has increased from 15ha to 40ha.
Concerned landowners held a meeting this week to fill out appeal forms to take the council to the Environment Court over the decision.
Martin Schilt currently leases his 38.7ha property to a dairy farmer and said subdivision was always going to be an option down the line.
"It was always going to be something I'd consider further down the track but now that option has completely been taken away.
"At the meeting, there were quite a few concerned elderly who had been sitting on their land for the last 20 or 30 years as a retirement fund and were now ready to subdivide only to have the rug pulled out from under them."
The council's District Plan programme lead, Paulina Wilhelm, confirmed the council had changed the minimum lot size for "Rural 1 zone" from 15ha to 40ha.
She said this was a direct response to requests by submitters and landowners at District Plan hearings.
"The rationale behind this change was to protect productive rural land from subdivision, acknowledging that larger parcels of land are critical for economic sustainability.
"At the hearings, farmers maintained that 15ha was not a viable economic unit. On the other hand, submitters were critical of 15ha lots as being too large for lifestyle units."
Mr Schilt said prior to this week's meeting "many people had no idea about the change in subdivision rules".
"It has surprised a lot of people and caused a lot of concern.
"The council is taking away all the realistic options to utilise our land and it feels as though we are being pushed out of the catchment."
However, Ms Wilhelm said that wasn't the case and Transferable Development Rights would allow ongoing expansion of lifestyle lots within the catchment, in RR2 zone (rural lifestyle).
"Transferable Development Rights are part of a new policy framework being developed with a group of stakeholders to provide economic incentives for landowners who reduce nutrients within the Rotorua catchment."
Mr Schilt said this change would negatively affect a lot of people who fell into the under 40ha category.
"We keep being told we have to change the way we use our land to protect the lakes but we are not being left with any viable options."