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Independent hearings commissioner Allan Cubitt granted the resource consent yesterday to Scott Farming under revised conditions presented at a hearing in Te Anau on December 9.
Scott Farming originally applied for resource consent in March last year to build four wintering barns in a staged construction plan, 6km south of Te Anau on the Scotts’ rural zoned land. But 23 submissions out of a total 32 opposed the construction when the consent opened for public consultation.
The Department of Conservation, which originally opposed the consent, withdrew its objections after the Scotts presented a revised plan halving the construction from four to two barns that would be relocated further away from neighbouring properties and reoriented on another part of the farm.
Mark Scott said it had been a long process which had left their business in limbo until a final decision had been reached.
"Common sense has prevailed ...
"It’s a shame it had to get to this process. It’s time consuming and frustrating."
While the resource consent had been applied for almost 12 months ago, they had been working on the winter shed plans for nearly three years, he said.
Aaron Scott said he was pleased they would finally be able to "push play" on construction.
He expected the delays would have resulted in increased building costs but hoped to start construction once his builder was able to clear his current commitments.
Martin Silva, who submitted against the wintering barns, said he believed the wrong decision had been reached, especially because it was neighbouring a national park and rivers.
"This obviously would be good in other places ... but people don’t understand this is a precious water resource."
New Zealand should be learning from mistakes that had been made overseas, where nations were now paying for not taking care of waterways, he said.
Landscaping architects for the Scotts and the council agreed plantings and constructed bunds would help to mitigate some of the visual amenity issues raised in some of the submitted objections.
Esteemed botanist Sir Alan Mark said he believed the wrong plants had been selected for the mitigation planting.
He was also surprised the commissioner’s decision did not align with the council’s district plan regarding maximum structure size.
The smaller proposed collective building footprint was 7260sq m. But the council’s visual amenity rule allowed for a maximum of 1000sq m.
"I’m very concerned because it sets a precedent for the Manapouri-Te Anau Basin and it’s contrary to the policy statement for the Southland District Council for that area."
In his decision, Mr Cubitt said: "I must stress that this is a working rural environment and what is proposed is a reflection of the new regulatory regime affecting the rural sector. Structures of this size are no longer unexpected in the rural environment."
The commissioner also commented the objections from neighbours had been "overplayed" because most of the neighbouring homes were oriented to the north (away from the construction site) and had little or no view.
Aaron Scott said Scott Farming had been willing to compromise and do the right thing by the environment.
"That’s life. You have to be accommodating and come up with solutions to problems every single day in business."
Scott Farming’s organic operation had been based around sustainability in the environment and compliance.
"There’s too much finger-pointing on the winter grazing thing and this is more sustainable," he said.
Barn build conditions
— Must inform the council when a new person is in charge.
— Must provide the council with photographs of completed barns.
— A copy of the resource consent must be on site at all times. The resource consent will lapse after five years.
— A full sediment and erosion control plan must be provided.
— Mounds must be 3m above the floor level of barns.
— A detailed planting plan is to be provided and carried out within six months of the completion of construction.
— Barns must be no higher than 7.5m.
— No permanent night-time lighting allowed, no light spill.
— The roof must be painted forest green.
By: Toni McDonald