Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT files
Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT files
Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan.

This would mean more stringent planning restrictions could be applied in these areas.

Much of this land is zoned rural general or rural scenic, which allows the potential for it to be converted to forestry land.

A review of the national environment standards, described by the report as a "one-stop shop for forestry regulation", was in progress.

It was not known when public consultation would occur but the report recommended advocating for and participating in the review.

Concerns were raised over carbon farming and the consent process after the Otago Daily Times revealed the proposed sale of 2590ha Hazeldean, a sheep, beef and deer farm near Tokarahi, to New Zealand Carbon Farming.

It is understood this sale has now gone through.

Cr Bill Kingan said after he visited the farm to look at what was proposed, he was taken to a spot overlooking the Kakanui River, where regional councillors had been taken last week.

"Apparently, they just stood on that knob there, with their mouths wide open."

He wondered if the "significant landscape card can’t be drawn".

The community was not against forestry, and parts of that farm could go into forestry, but not the whole thing, he said.

The estimated cost of the district plan change was around the $100,000 mark, largely made up of extensive assessment work.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he found the whole situation "really bizarre".

"We’re picking up on concerns of our community ... We’re going to have to spend upwards of $100,000 to try and put some measures in place to actually try and protect our place and our environment, from policies that are pushed down on us," Mr Kircher said.

"Our people aren’t seeing any benefit for it, other than hopefully something that doesn’t happen.

"It’s just all totally backwards, as far as I can see it," he said.

- By Ashley Smyth


I've got a good idea. Instead of planting trees let's cram in more cattle. Then we can cut down some more shelter belts so we can irrigate them. That's made North Otago a shinning light of environmental practise.