Farmers meet for rules clarification

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 06:33 01/07/2014

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Southland farmers are asking for clarification before Environment Southland implements changes to how they farm hill and high country land.

About 100 people attended an Environment Southland meeting in Gore yesterday to discuss the proposed changes that could make development of the land a permitted activity under the resource management act.

This means farmers would have to comply with a raft of measures such as 20-metre buffer zones around permanent water courses on hill land and limits on developing on land with more than 20 degrees slopes.

The rule affects land classed as land use capability 5-8 at altitudes of 200m or more.

In Southland that relates to about 800 land blocks.

Farmers were concerned about the lack of consultation and the change could have a significant impact on farming practice and costs.

One farmer was concerned that the changes could impinge on farmers' property rights.

Another wanted more clarification on the parameters around what land would be affected.

Some farms had dips and gullies where the land was at more than a 20 degree slope but were only for short areas and they wanted to know if that would make them non-complying.

However, one farmer, who was part of a hill and high country steering group, said he wished the rules had come into place 10 years ago.

He said he had lost a lot of money developing land that was unsuitable and these rules would help farmers to undertake sensible development.

Environment Southland staff said there was a need for more consultation with farmers and that was why the council delayed implementing the proposed plan change at the last council meeting.

Senior resource planner Fiona Young said the council was not trying to stop farmers developing their land but encourage good planning around development.

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- The Southland Times

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