South Taranaki District Council proposal a "sanctioned land grab" neighbours say

Proposed setback zones around rural industrial sites has prompted neighbouring residents to voice their concerns
Cameron Burnell

Proposed setback zones around rural industrial sites has prompted neighbouring residents to voice their concerns

A proposal to provide buffer zones around rural industrial sites has been attacked as a "council sanctioned land grab" by neighbouring farmers. 

The South Taranaki District Council's (STDC) proposal to include setback zones of up to 300 metres around industrial sites in its district plan would mean neighbouring farms could have to apply for resource consents to build on their own land.

The Luscombe family partnership, Philip and Ainsley Luscombe and Roger and Lyn Luscombe, own 200 hectares of land in Kapuni and said about 98h would be impacted if the proposal went ahead.

The farm, which had been run by members of the Luscombe family since 1882, was made up by several titles and some would have as much as 90 per cent of the land off limits to building without a consent. 

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"They're taking away our freehold rights. If we want to do anything within 300 metres of those plants, we have to apply for a resource consent," Ainsley said.

STDC environmental services group manager John McKenzie said it was simply a proposal being consulted on by the council, but believed it would benefit the community if it went ahead.

He said separation of sensitive activities such as new dwellings and the potentially adverse effects of industrial activities was a common planning tool employed in most districts and cities around New Zealand.

If the proposal was to go ahead, McKenzie said neighbours could be impacted by a possible rule that would require new dwellings to be acoustically insulated to reduce the level of noise occupants would experience.

"The justification is to protect people that may need to live in new dwellings located close to rural industrial activities," McKenzie said.

"An example could be a farm worker's cottage that has been built near a boundary where a higher level of noise from a neighbouring activity is experienced. I think that most people could see the logic in acoustic insulation being provided to protect the quality of life for the people that then need to live in that situation." 

Ainsley Luscombe said one of the biggest issues with the proposal was that other industries, such as the dairy industry, had purchased land to create their buffer zones, whereas the oil and gas companies in the area chose not to.

"Instead they want to go through the back door and get a free lunch from the council," she said.

"If you want to influence what happens on your neighbour's backyard, you'd have to buy that backyard. You can't just tell your neighbour what you want them to do on their land." 

Philip Luscombe said there had been no issues with land access around the sites in the past.

"It's just a bit of a lolly scramble. If the industries can have the land for free they'll take it, but there's no reason they shouldn't sort out their company policies and do it like any other commercial industry," he said. 

Both the family's homes and their worker's accommodations were within the proposed buffer zones, which would mean if something were to happen to them the family would need to apply for resource consents before they could rebuild.

He said the community had a strong relationship with the oil and gas industry in the past, and could not see the justification behind the proposal.

"It does sound like bureaucracy gone mad really." 

Submissions can be made to the council in regards to the proposed plan until January 29, with informal meetings with submitters scheduled for February and March.

 - Stuff

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