Court grants council declaration on irrigators

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014

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Pivot irrigators are vehicles, rather than buildings, at least in the Mackenzie District.

That is the thrust of an Environment Court decision, which has declared pivot irrigators vehicles within the definition of the district council's district plan.

In December 2013, the council lodged an application for a declaration pursuant to section 311 of the Resource Management Act 1991, which was supported by Andrew Curtis, chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand, and the Mackenzie branch of Federated Farmers. The declaration was not opposed.

The council submitted that large irrigators were not buildings because the district plan does not refer to them as buildings. They fall outside the district plan's definition of a building. Council also submitted that it did not intend that large irrigators be regulated under the rules for buildings.

Council submitted that at the time of the district plan being drafted, it had not considered the issue of whether or not irrigators were classified as buildings.

However, it indicated that pivot irrigators would be dealt with by guidelines yet to be developed, which indicated they were not covered by existing rules.

The court's decision stated it heard extensive argument as to why pivot irrigators were not buildings and said the difficulty was that a pivot irrigator was fixed to the ground at the point where it connected to the riser, which the court believed suggested it was a structure. The fact modern irrigators were moveable, suggested they may not be a building.

In his decision, Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson said pivot irrigators carried water from the riser at the end of the supply system to where it was sprayed on to land and that they also had wheels.

He said because they have wheels they are vehicles and pointed to the Land Transport Act 1998 definition, which he said made it "quite obvious" pivot irrigators were vehicles. The act states that pivot irrigators are a "contrivance equipped with wheels on which they move".

"Under section 313 of the Resource Management Act, we intend to make the declaration as sought by the council with some minor modifications," Judge Jackson said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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