Court's changes to One Plan dismay Horizons councillor

EMMA HORSLEY
Last updated 12:00 11/09/2012

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A Horizons councillor and prominent Manawatu farmer says he is "appalled" at the Environment Court for changing the One Plan by overturning decisions made by commissioners.

Feilding farmer Gordon McKellar, who stood on an anti-One Plan ticket in the 2010 Horizons Regional Council election, said the court's ruling was heavy-handed and was not in the best interests of farmers and the wider community.

"I'm appalled, quite frankly. The commissioners at the hearings knew what they were doing, they were well-qualified to make those decisions."

The One Plan is Horizons' plan to manage natural resources in its coverage area.

It blends six separate plans and regional policy statements into one document that determines how natural resources will be managed for the next 10 years.

Cr McKellar's property has been used to showcase good practice to other landowners, with parts of the property being given QEII status.

Cr McKellar said with the new-look One Plan, he would have to get consent to cultivate some parts of his land, as it had a slope of more than 20 degrees.

Landowners needed consent to cultivate sloping land to prevent soil erosion.

"It's ridiculous," he said. "We didn't lose any soil during the 2004 floods and this piece of land will not slip into any waterway, yet I now have to get consent to cultivate it as it is a 25-degree slope.

"If I leave it bare it has more likelihood to slip.

"The commissioners were well able to make those decisions and the Environment Court overturned them."

Cr McKellar said the commissioners at the various One Plan hearings made the policy document's rules workable, and the Environment Court had now made them unworkable.

Cr McKellar said Horizons had worked well to build good relationships with landowners, but he was now concerned those relationships would be put in jeopardy because of the stricter rules.

Before he was elected to council in his Manawatu/Rangitikei electorate, Cr McKellar was regional president of Federated Farmers.

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- Manawatu Standard

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