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Protect Rotorua are making sure the community has a voice

[September 16

Council response]

Protect Rotorua are making sure the community has a voice that will be listened to.

82 people raise $42,000 to pay Mai Chen to represent them in the process of Nitrogen rules for lake rotorua and today is the first of 2 open days for more consultation.

Protect Rotorua members are being encouraged to use these open days and the online submission form and asking that people get emailed responses to their questions.

Over 300 submissions were received by council in the consultation phase in October last year but most felt their concerns were ignored and that is why Protect rotorua took the action with Mai Chen to make sure the community has a voice in this process.

The whole community needs to be aware that the Nitrogen rules for the lake will affect everyone and we all need to be very clear that the $40 million "that is open for business for first movers" is spent as incentives for a clean lake and not a reward to the largest polluters to just move their intensive farming systems to another catchment to start the process again. $40 million needs to be spent to benefit the rotorua economy.

The Stag (stake holder advisory group) have controlled the process to date and given majority of the direction to the programme partners. The only lobby group for farmers has been the primary producers collective and that is a small number of farmers (less than 40) and the majority of the 5 seats collective have at Stag are Dairy.

IWI are represented at Stag and also support dairy as IWI has the largest dairy farm in the catchment and have grouped land together to become first movers.

Dry stock farmers over 40ha are very disadvantaged and under represented at Stag. Land over 40ha is stuck with the 2001 -2004 benchmark where as land under 40ha can have a benchmark 2011-2013. This has allowed landuse change and the ability for double dipping for the allocation of nitrogen. Potentially putting more nitrogen into the lake since the rule 11 benchmark.

So in 10 year BOPRC have devalued our rural land, condemned our farm houses to no advantage to the lake for landuse change.

Deer farmers and Small block holders only had an additional voice at stag after the consultation phase ended in November last year and have had no influence in making any changes

Protect Rotorua do not feel their voice will make a difference in stag so have asked for their own representation in the process via Mai Chen and have had assurances from Council that they will be listened to and that all the small block holders and farmers without current Nirtogen discharge allowances under the latest version of overseer 6.2 will have time to find out just how the rules do affect them and will have an opportunity to be heard later next month.

All landowners will be given the opportunity to make sure they know if they are going to need a resource consent in 2022 and where the nitrogen will be coming from to get one.

Everyone needs to be clear about who can be a first mover not just the people sitting at the stag table and everyone needs to be aware how disadvantaged the drystock sector are over 40ha with the different benchmark period for under 40ha.

The permitted landuse for small blocks has not changed with the version changes of overseer which has seen some benchmarks increase by 300% so it is the small blocks that are carrying the land use change and allowing for the double dipping. Being told they don't have to do anything in 2022 is an attempt to get around a large group of landonwers.

There is so much that is unfair about the current draft rules and the community deserve answers and some serious accountability of what it has cost.

Protect Rotorua will continue to use Mai Chen to make sure we get a say and The community need to understand Protect Rotorua represent all sections of farming including dairy, dry stock, small blocks and a growing group of concerned rate payers.

Stag and the collective are putting pressure for this matter to be resolved and have indicated in their latest newsletter that protect Rotorua are potentially wasting rate payer money by asking for clarification of process and input. Protect Rotorua just want to make sure the rules BOPRC enforce for the all landowners are fair, will protect the lake and will not destroy our rural economy or create massive rates increases in the future. $40 million is the motivation for stag and the collective - they are the first movers.

Protect Rotorua are also seeking transparency of spending and are yet to receive anything substantial in how much the council have spent on the stag process in the last 3 years. We have also not received anything specific about what the council have spent supporting the collective but we do know Protect Rotorua have only had the support for 2 meetings and that is just the venue. The last meeting where they collected the names to follow up was not even allowed to be promoted via the media because it was a condition of the meeting that we would not involve the media.

protect Rotorua are concerned that council are trying to contain this issue as much as possible when it should be something that all community get involved in. To have a clean lake we all need to do our bit and understand the changes proposed so we clearly understand how that will impact on our rates cost and how the rules will ensure the protection of our water.

I am sure that most landowners under 2ha don't even realise the rules now apply to them. When the lakes council got them to pay for their sewage scheme they were told that these rules would not apply to them - just like the Regional council told all the people that complied with rules 11 if they did so they wouldn't have to have a resource consent to farm - it is time community made the councils accountable for their lies.

BOPRC will tell us that the process is just started and we can submit in the next phase of the rules but community need to make sure they understand now before the rules are notified so we can make sure we are all in the best position to protect our lake and our economy in the process going forward.

As community we need to get informed - we have a right to have a voice, it is a shocking reality that we have to pay a lawyer to make sure that happens.


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