Southland hill and high country farmers are breathing a sigh
of relief after Environment Southland has again deferred
proposed changes to hill and high country development rules.
The changes propose to not allow development to take place
more than 700m above sea level, to not allow fodder crops to
be established on slopes greater than 20 degrees, and to
ensure development does not take place within 20m of
permanently flowing water or within 5m of a gully.
The decision was made at the council's July 9 meeting and
followed their first choice of not implementing the plan
changes at their June 18 meeting as councillors believed they
needed more information and to work with land owners.
At public meetings held in Gore and Mossburn, the proposed
plan changes were presented to farmers by Environment
Southland director of policy planning and regulatory service
Vin Smith, senior resource planner Fiona Young and senior
land sustainability officer Gary Morgan.
Ms Young said Environment Southland wanted to allow hill and
high country farmers to develop their land, and they wanted
them to follow good management practices.
The trio were met in force by hill and high country farmers
from throughout the region who wanted their views heard and
questions concerning the proposed plan changes answered.
Dipton farmer Jared Collie put to Environment Southland staff
and councillors at the Mossburn meeting that he believed 20
degrees was unreasonable for a land development slope.
He warned council that if they did not listen to what farmers
had to say, they would not stand by and let it happen. They
would have a fight on their hands.
There was applause for Mr Collie. Environment Southland
chairwoman Ali Timms agreed with Mr Collie, saying council
wanted to make the decision that best suited everyone and
made the plan changes as easy and effective as possible.
Other key issues raised by farmers at the Mossburn meeting
was that the conditions of the plan change would only have to
be met over the colder months from May to September when the
damage to water quality and soil would be most affected,
which was confirmed by Environment Southland.
Questions raised during the meetings focused on the
conditions of the proposed plan change, the consent process
and how the changes would be implemented.
Environmental management committee chairman Nicol Horrell
chaired both meetings and said it was incredibly valuable to
get the information from the farmers, and it was important
for council to understand the concerns of those farmers
affected by the change.
It was as a result of these meetings and other feedback
provided to the council that staff would now be reviewing the
plan change and the approach to implementing the plan
Southland Federated Farmers acting president Allan Baird said
they were pleased the council had listened to what farmers
''Considering the quality of water in the upper catchments is
generally good, Federated Farmers believes the best way
forward is to abandon the rule of making hill high country
farm development a regulated process.''
Draft Rule for Hill and High Country Development as proposed
by Environment Southland:
- Development does not take place above 700m above sea level.
- Fodder crops are are not established on slopes greater than
- Development does not take place within 20m of permanently
- Development does not take place within 5m of a gully.
If these conditions could not be met a resource consent would
be needed as it would no longer be a permitted activity but a
An application for resource consent under the proposed new
rule would not need to be notified and would not need to be
served on anyone who might be affected by the activity.
The only circumstance where notification would need to be
given is when the applicant would request being notified or
the council considered special circumstances would warrant
Environment Southland's goal of this focus activity is to
ensure hill country development is properly planned to
minimise adverse environmental effects, in particular soil
loss and its resulting impact on water quality.
It is also a part of the council's larger environmental
project Water and Land 2020 and Beyond.
- by Nicole Sharp