Councillor battles council over water

17:00, Jun 06 2014

A Gore District councillor embroiled in a bitter battle with his own council has questioned the integrity of people within the organisation at a public hearing.

Cr Graham Sharp launched a verbal attack this week during a hearing in which the council wants to impose farming restrictions on his land.

Gore's water supply comes from two bores on a dairy farm owned by the Sharp Trust, of which Sharp is a shareholder.

The Sharp Trust bought the farm in 2009, with the council beginning discussions to protect the integrity of its water source soon after. No agreement was reached.

The council wants to stop farming activities on 14 hectares surrounding the two bores, known as Cooper's Wells, with its aim to minimise risk to the town's water quality.

A hearing on the issue began in late December before being adjourned until this week, when Sharp made barbed comments toward his council colleagues.

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He questioned the integrity of some people at the council, effectively accusing them of lying and being deceitful, and said there had been a "deliberate attempt to assassinate my character around the council table".

"Quite frankly, I have seriously considered taking out a non-molestation order against the Gore District Council."

He believed the council should be looking for another source of water and he had made three suggestions, but said he had received "zero interest" from within the council.

The council proposal to take the "heart" out of his farm "stuffs everything", he said.

Council chief executive Steve Parry, in a submission to the commissioners, says the council is dismayed they are considering allowing "farming convenience to trump water quality protection for a supply that serves about 7500 people".

The Sharp Trust argues the council has produced no evidence to show the farming operation has put the water supply at risk.

The 14 hectares was vital to the farming operation because it was beside the dairy shed.

The water from the bores has been of good quality during the many years the farm has had milking cows on it, the trust says.

The independent hearing commissioners, Colin Weatherall and David Pullar, said they hoped to make their decision by the end of this month.

evan.harding@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times