Farmers: we will fight for livelihoods

Bruce Jolly.
Bruce Jolly.
Farmers in Tarras are prepared to go all the way to the Environment Court to protect their livelihoods.

Members of the Lindis Catchment Group voted at a meeting in Tarras last night to  appeal the Otago Regional Council’s decision to set a minimum flow rate for the Lindis River catchment at 900 litres per second from October 1 to May 31 every year.

Committee member and local farmer Bruce Jolly said 26 members of the catchment group voted unanimously in favour of appealing the decision.

Mediation with the council was the preferred option but the group was willing to go the Environment Court if required, Mr Jolly said.

Appealing to the Environment Court would be a costly exercise but the farmers needed to protect their livelihoods, he said.

"The real crux of it is they haven’t taken economic hardship into consideration for some individuals in the area. If this goes through at the 900 litres minimum, they will be left with almost nothing."

Farmers vented their frustration during the meeting at the what they saw as inadequacies and a lack of detail in the hearing panel’s report, Mr Jolly said.

"The way it reads, you could have the idea that there were no expert witnesses at the hearings."

Support for Tarras farmers had come from around Otago and particularly other dry river catchments in Central Otago.

"The ruling on this one will have ramifications for the other hearings like Cardrona and Manuherikia."

Mr Jolly was not sure when the group would officially notify the council it would challenge the decision, but needed to read through all the evidence first.

A spokesman for the Otago Regional Council said the council could not comment on a possible appeal.

Anyone who made a submission during the plan change process had 30 working days from when the proposal was notified to lodge an appeal.

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