Forestry owners say they are considering an appeal against a High Court decision which backed a council's move to stack its rating system against properties planted in trees.
The issue of productive farmland being bought by cashed-up foresters and converted to plantations has become a big issue in the Wairoa District, where the council believes it will have "significant negative impacts" on the region's future wellbeing.
Mayor Craig Little says more forest plantings meant fewer people farming, shearing and fencing across the district, and properties that used to have two or three families living on them now have none.
The Wairoa District Council last year changed the way its rates were charged, shifting the focus from fixed charges to capital value and setting a differential rate for forestry properties.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The rate for forestry is more than twice that of commercial properties, four times that of residential properties, and more than five times the rates paid by farmers.
As a result, foresters say their rates have risen 56 per cent, adding to previous increases which meant that rates for some forest owners had tripled over four years.
The New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) sought a judicial review of the new rating system in the High Court, arguing that the rating changes were unfair and unreasonable and improperly targeted them because they were wealthy.
However, Justice Christine Grice dismissed the NZFOA's claims, which had been brought on behalf of seven landowners who between them controlled two-thirds of Wairoa's 77,000 hectares of forestry plantations.
An NZFOA spokesman told Open Justice the association was now "actively considering" an appeal against the judgement.
"We believe we have good grounds for an appeal," he said.