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DoC loads costs onto Hurunui Ratepayers

4 October 2001

PR151/01

DoC loads costs onto Hurunui Ratepayers

The Department of Conservation's desire to meddle again in the Hurunui District Plan is typical of the actions that have bought the Resource Management Act into disrepute according to North Canterbury Federated Farmers (NCFF) Vice President Jamie McFadden.

"How much longer will the rural community have to put up with the actions of Government, who on the one hand says it is concerned about the compliance costs of the RMA and on the other hand allows the costs of the process to be increased exponentially by their own Government Departments, said Mr McFadden.

"Hurunui farmers, Jeff and Brian Wilkinson scored an emphatic victory with an Environment Court ruling that the Hurunui District Council had gone beyond its statutory duty when the Council zoned their farms as significant landscape and imposed land use controls on buildings, structures and forestry, said Mr McFadden. As a result the Environment Court ordered the deletion of all significant landscapes from the plan in January 2001."

"In response to the Environment Court ruling, the Hurunui District Council initiated a variation to remove the significant landscape zoning and replaced it with some new district wide rules and forestry controls. The removal of the significant landscape zoning was supported by the Federation, other community groups and many individuals.

"But, the Director General of Conservation has now lodged an appeal against the Council's variation and is seeking the reinstatement of the significant landscape zone under the new title of the Landscape Management Zone.

"The RMA is meant to allow the community to develop its own plans said Mr McFadden. The Hurunui Plan has been in Environment Court mediation for the last four years and now, because of the Department of Conservation's action, could drag on for another 2-3 years at least."

"By the end of 1998 the approximately 5,000 Hurunui ratepayers had spent well over a million dollars to get the plan to mediation. On top of this Federation members have had to invest a huge amount of time and money preparing submissions and attending District Plan meetings, mediations, and hearings only to have the process derailed by DoC yet again.

"The Environment Court ruled there was little justification for the 'significant' zoning yet rural stakeholders are forced into another round of expensive litigation to satisfy DoC's determination to impose their landscape views on rural New Zealand.

"Farmers accept they have a duty to manage their land sustainably, avoid nuisance to neighbours, and pass on their properties in good condition to the next generation," Mr McFadden said.

"However, imposts from government and the demand to have 63% of the district identified and controlled as landscape areas, goes well beyond 'public good' conservation. Indeed the Environment Court noted that the Hurunui District is very much a working landscape - it's farmland, not a national park.

The Department of Conservation do not seem able to accept an Environment Court ruling that is supported by the Hurunui District Council, and its local community. The actions of DoC do nothing for the benefit of sustainable management and continue to force massive costs on ratepayers and the productive sector."

ENDS

For more information: Jamie McFadden PH 03 314 3739 Ali Undorf- Lay PH 03 372 3597 or 025 722 544


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