Row on land use near bores 'resolved'

The Gore District Council's bitter and protracted fight with a councillor to protect land around bores that supply water to the Gore township has succeeded, to a degree.

The council wanted councillor and dairy farmer Graham Sharp to stop farming on 14 hectares of land on his farm, which surrounds the Cooper's Wells water bores, in a bid to protect the town's water supply.

Continuing discussions between the two parties in recent years failed to resolve the matter, so it went to an independent hearing.

The decision, issued by hearing commissioners Colin Weatherall and David Pullar this week, prohibits all farming activity on 3.9 hectares of land surrounding the water bores.

The decision also imposes restrictions, including to winter grazing and fertiliser application, on a further 13 hectares surrounding the bores.

The commissioners said the decision provided for an enduring protection area for the running and future development and maintenance of the wells.

"It also provides certainty for all parties around future land use and reflects existing land use."

Sharp said he believed the decision was a fair and cost-effective solution for everybody. He would not be appealing against it.

"We are losing farmland and we have got restrictions, but if that makes everybody happy and we have got peace from it, so be it."

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said the commissioners decision was "interesting".

The council would hold a meeting later this week to consider the decision, with Parry saying it was premature to speculate whether or not the council would appeal against it.

The council would revisit its initial objectives and measure the commissioners' decision against those objectives before making any decisions.

The dispute had cost the council about $80,000 in legal fees so far, with that money to be funded by loan, Parry said.

The Southland Times