One Plan consequences dire - Carter

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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The financial effects on farmers of the landmark One Plan court ruling could be small, according to a new report, but Primary Industries Minister David Carter maintains the effects will be dire.

A Landcare Research report for his ministry, considering the impacts of various policies for managing fresh water, was published yesterday.

The 127-page report, which looks at various catchments, assesses eight policy scenarios for the Horizons Regional Council area. Seven would lead to farm profits dropping by between 1 per cent and 43 per cent.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said none of the scenarios reflected those contained in the controversial One Plan, but the closest scenario was one that resulted in a fall of 1 per cent.

It was unfortunate that figures of 22-43 per cent drops had been spread about last week, he said. He urged farmers to calm down and stressed the council would ensure the plan was implemented sensibly.

But Mr Carter, who has been highly critical of the council's cost-benefit analysis, yesterday repeated his claim that it was "completely inadequate".

"For the council to suggest farmers should take a deep breath and relax is absolutely stupid," he said. "This is a very serious plan that has the potential to dramatically reduce the productivity of the regional council's catchment area.

"What is clear is that there is a very significant impact to productivity and production with the One Plan."

The Environment Court ruling of September found the plan would result in an increased average cost to farmers of between 5 and 16 per cent.

Mr Carter said the 5 per cent figure appeared to be based on the evidence of one expert witness for the council.

The analysis by Landcare suggested the costs were "substantially higher than those accepted by the judge in the Environment Court".

"The decision has been challenged to the High Court and we all need to wait and see where that case goes."

WHAT IS ONE PLAN?

Horizons Regional Council's plan for the Manawatu and Whanganui area is seen as a precedent by other regional councils for how it addresses farm runoff affecting water quality.

The plan, which was eight years in the making, would allow the council to limit the amount of nutrients permitted to come off farms and horticultural land.

It was approved, and even strengthened, in a landmark Environment Court decision by Judge Craig Thompson in September.

The decision is the subject of appeals by Federated Farmers and Horticulture NZ.

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