Court tells One Plan opponents to state case

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012

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Opponents to the landmark 'One Plan' Environment Court decision have been told to explain why they think the matter needs to be re-heard.

Environment Court Judge Craig Thompson issued a minute to parties on Friday advising that Horticulture NZ wanted to re-hear the controversial Horizons Regional Council plan.

The judge said the application had been made by way of memorandum "without a formal application and unsupported by affidavit evidence, as one might generally expect".

This approach made the timing of matters "less than ideal", and he directed Horticulture NZ to lodge formal application and affidavit evidence by February 1.

Federated Farmers, which supports the application has until February 15 to lodge its support and affidavit evidence, and parties opposed to the application, including Fish and Game and Horizons Regional Council, have until March 1 to lodge their opposition and affidavits.

The court will then decide whether a rehearing is warranted, or whether it needs to hear more from the parties.

Meanwhile, a date has yet to be set for a High Court appeal by Horticulture NZ and Federated Farmers against the decision.

The plan was the subject of a ruling in September that would result in limits being imposed on the nutrients that could run off farms in some areas. It was nine years in the making and was seen as precedent setting.

The court ruling found the proposed measures would see an average increase to farm expenses of 5 per cent a year.

But the farming organisations and Primary Industries Minister David Carter said a Landcare Research report published after the ruling showed farm profits would drop by 22 to 43 per cent.

A memo to the court from Horizons, obtained by The Dominion Post, rejects the need for a rehearing. It said Horticulture NZ and Federated Farmers had selectively referred to statements in the Landcare report and the council "simply wish to sound a note of caution against selected passages being considered out of context".

The council quoted a section of the report that stated it was not comparable to the One Plan.

Fish and Game's memo to the court also said the Landcare report was irrelevant and further delay was "unnecessary and unacceptable" to regimes in the plan that "need to be implemented as soon as possible in 2013 to address longstanding environmental issues in the region"

"Unless speedily resolved, this proposal for rehearing will add further delay to the plan's implementation, and leave a cloud of uncertainty for the Manawatu-Wanganui community over the implementation of its provisions," it said.

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- The Dominion Post

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