Dairy barn rethink request declined

Environment Southland has declined the request of a prominent conservationist to reconsider its approval for Southland’s largest dairy-barn complex to be built near Fiordland National Park.

Prof Sir Alan Mark
Prof Sir Alan Mark
Emeritus Prof Sir Alan Mark said his concerns were not allayed by the regional council’s response, which emphasised environmental benefits of the plan.

The former chairman of the Guardians of Lake Manapouri, Monowai and Te Anau wrote to Environment Southland arguing the resource consent granted last year should have been publicly notified.

He predicted the 14,460sqm complex would cause pollution to the upper Waiau River and therefore to Lake Manapouri.

Environment Southland issued consent 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 without public notification in May last year.

In a written response to Sir Alan, Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said there was no legal pathway available for the approved consent to be reconsidered or cancelled.

However, the reasons to grant the consent were "still sound", he said.

"The application was made to provide a mitigation to the existing grazing operation on the farm.

"These barns and consented effluent application aim to provide benefits to the environment above how the farm currently operates."

Effluent disposal controls required buffer distances and application rates to manage potential environmental effects.

The environmental impacts were assessed against various planning documents and did not meet the threshold for seeking public submissions, he said.

"It’s more or less what I expected but I wanted to express to them my concerns," Sir Alan said.

However, the dairy development has not been approved by the Southland District Council, and resource management planner Alexandra Smith recommended the application be declined due to its size and perceived environmental impact.

A hearing on the matter is set to take place at the end of this month.

"It’s going to be an interesting situation to see how the district council and the regional council front off," Sir Alan said.