Farming lobby heads to court again over plan

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 09:02 07/12/2013

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The Mackenzie branch of Federated Farmers is taking a contentious plan change to the High Court for the second time.

Last month, Environment Court judge Jon Jackson released his latest update on the Mackenzie District Council's plan change 13, which will set the rules for development in the basin.

He had previously declared the basin an outstanding natural landscape - the highest form of protection outside of public conservation land.

The farming lobby group's appeal is wide-ranging, but principally argues Judge Jackson went "beyond his scope" when he introduced a series of rules around pivot irrigators, size and density of farm buildings and pastoral intensification, to address the "greening of the basin".

Mackenzie district planning manager Nathan Hole said nearly all of this would have to be put on hold as it awaits the High Court findings.

"Even if we didn't have this latest delay, it probably would have been another year before we could implement the changes," he said.

"It's hard to know how much longer this will take, we will just have to work through the process with the courts."

Judge Jackson has proposed a suite of rules for the council to consider. These include a minimum lot size for farm bases in the Mackenzie Basin of 200 hectares to avoid excessive subdivision, and rules to mitigate excessive irrigation in the basin.

It has already been through the High Court process last year, after Federated Farmers eventually dropped its appeal against Judge Jackson's interim decision, which declared the basin an outstanding natural landscape.

The council received more than 150 submissions on the plan change.

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- The Timaru Herald

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