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Te Anau tourism operator Martin Sliva said about 30 Te Anau residents and supporters had met to oppose Scott Farming 2012 Ltd’s bid to build a 15,000sqm compound of four wintering barns near the Waiau River after a pre-hearing meeting with the Southland District Council on the matter.
"This activity, if allowed, will be precedent setting in this unique and precious landscape and environment," Mr Sliva said.
"It would be just the start of intensified, commercial non-sustainable farming in the Te Anau Basin.
"It’s just the wrong place. This is one of the last strongholds of a clean environment here in New Zealand."
A hearing for the application to build the four barns had been scheduled for September 21, Mr Sliva said.
However, the group had asked for a postponement. It was still considering whether to hire a lawyer, he said.
The project already received consent from Environment Southland, in May last year, to discharge agricultural effluent to land from 1600 cows; to use land to build and use an effluent storage pond; and to use land for the wintering barns.
However, Mr Sliva said he and other Te Anau residents only heard about it after it was approved.
The initial application went through the regional council process as a non-notified consent and he and others only heard of the project about six months ago.
The present application with the district council was the first opportunity they had to take part in the process and the first priority was to "stop the barns", he said.
The area was next to the Kepler Track great walk, a trout fishing river that attracted enthusiasts from around the world and the new Lake2Lake Cycle Trail from Lake Te Anau to Lake Manapouri, all of which would be directly affected by a project "not in line with 100% Pure New Zealand", he said.
Southland Forest & Bird branch member Jenny Campbell, writing on behalf of Coal Action Murihiku, said a heavy rainfall after an effluent discharge to land could be "an environmental disaster for the Waiau River", which was a huge recreational asset for the Te Anau and Manapouri community.
A director for Scott Farming 2012 Ltd did not respond to questions last night, but the application said the proposal’s adverse effects on the environment were very likely to be no more than minor.
The barns would be used during winter and periods of poor weather and would reduce pasture and soil damage to other areas of the farm and mitigate diffuse nitrogen losses to water, as well as improving animal welfare, it said.
Southland District Council environmental planning manager Marcus Roy previously said 31 submissions had been received on the application.