Revised plan sparks Tararua dairy farm fears

By Christine McKay

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Dairy cows graze before calving at Woodville. Tararua farmers are yet to learn what will be required of them in the One Plan. Photo / Duncan Brown
Dairy cows graze before calving at Woodville. Tararua farmers are yet to learn what will be required of them in the One Plan. Photo / Duncan Brown

Tararua District councillor Jim Crispin fears the worst for local dairy farmers from changes to Horizons Regional Council's One Plan.

At their strategy and policy committee meeting in August, Horizons regional councillors moved a recommendation to investigate partial One Plan change options.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said the decision was made because the committee was clearly informed that, following an Environment Court's ruling, if farmers had to meet the current nitrogen leaching numbers in the One Plan a significant number of businesses would no longer be viable.

Horizons have been preparing a cost analysis on the financial impact of implementing the plan in accordance with the latest Environment Court decision and Mr Crispin wants a review as fast as possible.

"This is a shocking piece of legislation," he said.

"It will have a terrible effect on our farmers and I'm hoping like hell there is a major about-turn."

John Barrow, the Tararua councillor on Horizons, said staff had been requested to investigate options to initiate a proposed change to the plan and details would be revealed at a public meeting in Dannevirke in October.

Those in the industry are expecting dairy farmers will need to retire at least 20 per cent of their land to meet nitrogen leaching criteria.

And while Andrew Day, a Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer and supporter of the One Plan in its entirety, is optimistic that in time Horizons will have a workable plan that still protects the environment, he sees trouble ahead.

"In the short term, Horizons are in a hell of an ugly bind," he told the Dannevirke News.

"I know the council and environment groups have been putting their heads together for a workable solution, but not all farming businesses can survive a shift to being responsible for their pollution.

"Horizons got themselves into a real jam because they were so generous with the consents in the Mangatinoka catchment, in southern Tararua, and basically they've given a massive transference of wealth from farmers in the upper Manawatu catchment [Woodville north to Norsewood], because of the consents issued down south.

"Any wriggle room there may have been in the One Plan has been gifted to those Mangatinoka consents."

Mr Day said he was concerned for dairy farmers currently operating without a consent.

"They are farming under the goodwill of people not taking a legal challenge against them.

"Really, this is a legally challenging gun at regional councillors' heads."

Mr Day was waiting on the outcome of general election to see if National and New Zealand First could govern by themselves.

"There's a full range of solutions up in the air at the moment and, like Neil Filer, the president of Tararua Federated Farmers, I worry about the new-entry farmers who thought they'd done their due diligence when purchasing their properties.

"They've got no money to come and go on to meet tough One Plan requirements."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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