At the reconvened hearing yesterday into plan change 13, which would allow a 900-lot residential development on the outskirts of Cromwell, commissioners were told the production of cherries and other summer fruits in Cromwell orchards would be ''irreversibly impacted'' if the plan change was granted.

In her evidence, Horticulture New Zealand environmental policy adviser for the South Island Rachel McClung said growers and their operations currently have a good reputation in and around Cromwell, but the proposed River Terrace subdivision would erode their ''social licence'' or the community's acceptability of their right to farm.

''Social licence can be eroded by incompatible land uses and reverse sensitivity.

''The growers are well aware of what their potential social loss leaders could be: bird scarers, frost fans, artificial shelter and chemical sprays.''


''All the methods they used to ensure a high-quality yield ... and without them a zero yield is likely,'' she said.

The proposed River Terrace development is 3km from the Cromwell town centre, next to existing horticultural operations and is zoned rural and rural residential.

The Winton Group is seeking to amend the zoning to urban, which would allow the River Terrace development to go ahead.

The Ripponvale area has some 217ha of orchards, largely planted in cherries.

The 45 South Regional Packhouse supports a further 126ha of cherry plantation within the wider Cromwell growing area.

McClung said 85 per cent of New Zealand cherry orchards were in the Cromwell area and the industry value for cherries in 2018 was $84.1 million.

Another witness for Horticulture NZ, Kerikeri kiwifruit post harvest and orchard general manager Carl Muller said he anticipated orchards in the vicinity of PC13 would experience the same issues faced in Kerikeri when it came to notifying neighbours about fruit spraying.

He said in Kerikeri ''there was currently a neighbourhood feud which had boiled over into a social media campaign to build pressure around spraying in the town''.


Orchard spraying was a critical task that needed to be timed appropriately to have effectiveness and protect economic benefit, he said.

However, spraying was an ''emotive topic'' and one neighbour can be the catalyst for ongoing problems affecting the viability of an orchard and its stakeholders.

The hearing continues.