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No winners with One Plan

5 September 2012

No winners with One Plan

Instead of improving the environment, the Environment Court’s decision on the Horizon Regional Council’s (HCR) controversial One Plan will be bad for everyone in the Horizons region.

“This has the potential, depending on which numbers Horizons choses to use in its nitrogen (N) targets could drag down both local and national economies,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“Farmers support sustainability and improving the land and the environment for future generations, which is why most of us are making huge investments in nutrient management and waterway protection.

“However, instead of looking at how they can help farmers improve the environment and achieve sustainable environmental practice, HRC’s One Plan, as it currently stands, imposes a number of expensive blanket standards. These are more likely to force farmers off land than enable them to improve it.

“If this happens the environment will not win. Instead, the land will become over-run by pest species, such as N leaching gorse. This will also do nothing for New Zealand’s export productivity and our long term economic outlook.

“In fact, Federated Farmers believes the council’s original 2007 section 32 report on the One Plan’s impacts defies the Resource Management Act’s (RMA) statutorily set principle of evaluating proposed regulation against its economic, societal and cultural effects, as well as the environmental.

“From the outset, staff at HRC and other councils around the country, have glossed over their RMA’s section 32 responsibilities. They emphasised the environment over the Act’s other pillars, to get their preferred regulations imposed on the community.

“If Horizons uses the original figures from its report on the economic impacts on dairy farms in 2010, the One Plan could cost dairy farmers tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Unbelievably, a further section 42A report stated this cost was okay, because dairy farmers would spend the money in New Zealand on mitigation, rather than on overseas holidays and imported cars.

“In reality, many farmers will not be spending money anywhere because they will be bankrupt and heading either for the nearest Work and Income New Zealand office or buying one way tickets to Western Australia or Chile.

“Perhaps writing section 32 reports should be taken over by a government department, such as Treasury, to ensure there is real impartiality in their construction.

“The ongoing loss of productivity and profitability for all primary sector producers in the Horizons region is not addressed, despite being exacerbated by the tight time frames for implementing the plan and the sinking lid nature of the plan’s N loss limits.

“This decision has largely reversed the independent commissioners’ recommendations, made following an extensive submissions period, in favour of bringing the document back to the original plan as notified.

“The 2007 section 32 report, based on the notified plan, lacked detail and put no dollar value on that plan,” Mr Hoggard concluded.

At this early stage of analysis, there are already a number of concerning key points which Federated Farmers will investigate further:

§ That all intensive land use is to be regulated using a nitrogen (N) leaching loss limit determined by Land Use Capability units. These have no direct link to N leaching loss

§ That N leaching loss limits will reduce over time and any intensive land use or any existing intensive land use in particular catchments will require a consent to farm

§ That additional catchments ,including Lake Horowhenua, other coastal lakes and coastal Rangitikei, to be reinstated as priority water management zones

§ That Indigenous Biodiversity will be managed through the One Plan

§ That large scale land disturbance and cultivation on land with a slope of more than 20o requires consent. Setbacks for land disturbance and vegetation clearance from water bodies wider than 1 metre is 5m except where the slope is greater than 20o, in which case setbacks are 10m.”


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