Comment permalink

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher
The Waitaki District Council has sent a clear message to the carbon forestry industry after hearing farmers concerns about large forestry conversions.

At a council meeting yesterday, North Otago farmers Murray Simpson, Jane Smith and Paul Ruddenklau told councillors they feared the environmental impacts carbon forestry developments could have on their properties.

Councillors then unanimously agreed to ask council staff to begin drafting proposals to address production and carbon forestry effects in the district.

Council chief executive Fergus Power said it set a clear policy direction, and sent a signal to the industry.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the decision was to enable putting controls in the district plan quickly.

The council was limited by national environmental standards, but needed to make sure its district plan helped it control negative effects of forestry planting, he said.

Cr Colin Wollstein described it as a very negative trend for the district.

"I understand it’s a national directive to plant more trees but if you plant more trees, you’ve got to plant the right tree in the right place. This is the wrong type of farming for Waitaki district and I think as the speakers told us today, the detriment on the neighbouring farms will be huge," he said.

The meeting came after the Otago Daily Times revealed the proposed sale of 2590ha sheep, beef and deer Hazeldean property, near Tokarahi, to New Zealand Carbon Farming.

When asked if this development could be stopped, Mr Kircher said he did not want to pre-empt what could come from the resource consent application.

"There are certain things we do have a say on, the question is, is that going to be enough?, or, is it just going to be something that can happen and there won’t be proper controls in place?"

Last year, a fire began in a carbon forestry block and ripped through 611ha near Livingstone, and there were other councils facing the same issue.

It was understood resource consent was granted retrospectively by the council to New Zealand Carbon Farming for the Livingstone development.

There was a non-notified consent, complying with the district plan, and it was believed the criteria for it were not met.

When Cr Ross McRobie asked what the council could do to ensure it was met in future, Mr Power preferred not to comment as it was under enforcement.


I'm sure these councillors have the community's future at heart and have no vested interests in this matter. I mean, why else would you take a giant leap backwards like this? The assertion that you need to plant a certain type of tree in a certain environment is absurd. Also, the unspecified detriment caused to neighbouring properties leaves me wondering at their motives. The opposition to this proposed tree planting smells to high heaven. I hope the citizens of Waitaki and the local media are digging into this to find the true situation. Councillors should start the ball rolling by declaring their financial interests and indicating whether they want to lease land that is targetted for free planting.