Farmers' win sets coastal land precedent

SANDIE FINNIE
Last updated 09:14 12/03/2014
Gwyn Morgan.
Fairfax NZ
FIGHTING LINES: Federated Farmers' regional policy adviser Gwyn Morgan says if councils draw unreasonable lines through productive pastoral land, they will oppose it every time.

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Almost 1000 hectares of Bay of Plenty coastal farmland has been saved from planned regional council environmental protection, in a move that has implications for farmers throughout the country.

Federated Farmers has appealed to the Environment Court the BOP Regional Council (BOPRC) plans to include the coastal farmland in new maps defining areas of environmental significance.

However, before a court decision has been made the parties entered mediation and have reached an agreement - which has yet to be ratified.

"Until this mediated agreement is formally issued through the court its status is an agreement between the two parties,'' Abby Tozer, a communications adviser to the BOPRC said.

FF's regional policy adviser Gwyn Morgan said the council move had the potential to devalue Bay of Plenty coastal properties.

Morgan claimed the agreement meant an "interpretative precedent" had been set for the way all councils mapped boundaries of coastal land.

"While not opposed to the statutory requirements of giving effect to the National Coastal Policy Statement, the federation was concerned at the way the coastal environment had been defined with a single brush stroke approach for all landowners in the affected areas.

"There was no consideration given for current land use within the boundaries, nor appropriate consultation with affected landowners."

Under the regional council's policy statement giving effect to the National Coastal Policy Statement, 27 Federated Farmers members were going to have 11 per cent of their farms placed under environmental protection, which would have restricted the uses the land could be put to.

The yet to be ratified agreement means the amount of coastal land that could have been included in the maps was reduced by 964ha.

"If councils draw unreasonable lines through productive pastoral land, we will oppose it every time," Mr Morgan said.

Part of the federation's strategy involved getting council staff to visit affected landowners' farms to discuss the proposed coastal environment.

Mr Morgan said they used a GPS to reinforce what was rural land and what was coastal land. Once staff understood a farmer's concerns, a more practical solution was reached through mediation.

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- The Southland Times

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