Contested wintering barns project thrown lifeline

Alexandra Smith
Alexandra Smith
The proposed barn development near Te Anau and under the shadow of the Fiordland National Park has been thrown a lifeline.

After a resource consent hearing in Te Anau yesterday, hearing commissioner Allan Cubitt adjourned the hearing so parties could come together and find common ground.

Scott Farming Ltd had originally proposed to build four big barns, covering 14,460sq m, as part of a dairying operation.

Following criticism from submitters and the Southland District Council indicating it opposed the proposal, Scott Farming went back to the drawing board.

It came back with a proposal of just two barns, changed the position of the barns — further away from the national park, and positioned them differently. But it was still opposed by the council.

Mr Cubitt, who carried out a site visit on Thursday before the hearing, adjourned the hearing for eight working days yesterday.

He wanted the applicant and the council to get together and seek a workable outcome.

He acknowledged the council had revised its original decision "from total decline to sitting on the fence."

He wanted the adjournment time to answer some questions.

"I think it’s appropriate you guys get together and work out some conditions that address some of the concerns around planting, the potential artificial look of things so we can get a set of conditions I can look at and what can be achieved," he said.

Multiple mounds surrounding the barns would be planted with flora found in the region to mitigate views from various angles.

The new location and orientation would mean the view of the buildings from the road would now be an end-on perspective, where Southland District Council resource management planner Alexandra Smith had originally declined the application due to environmental and visual impact.

She assured the commissioner the council would be able to "come up with something" to achieve a resolution, even though it is hard to mitigate visual impact plants get established.

"We just needed the public to share their thoughts, being an area they had feelings about. And they came and told us their feelings, which is why it was publicly notified," she said.

Multiple submissions were heard regarding the implications the development would have on the Southland District Council visual amenity plan.

Thirty-one submissions were originally made relating to the consent application.

But the Department of Conservation and Te Runanga o Oraka Aparima’s opposing submissions were withdrawn after the revised plan was submitted.

Scott Farming owners Aaron and Mark Scott said significant changes had been made to their initial plan.

They were motivated to be good caretakers of the land while also being sensitive to the region as well as the community.

They were more than happy to work with the council to sort out the conditions for a consent approval, they said.

Environment Southland originally granted Scott Farming a non-notified resource consent to discharge agricultural effluent to land from 1600 cows.

By Toni McDonald