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ORC decision a disaster for under-pressure farmers – Federated Farmers

Farmers are deeply disappointed that Otago Regional Council has decided to charge ahead unnecessarily with piling more regulation on rural communities, Federated Farmers says.

ORC councillors voted 7-5 yesterday to move forward with notifying its controversial draft Land and Water Plan on October 31.

It’s a poor decision that will result in even more regulation being piled onto Otago farmers in the coming months, Federated Farmers environment spokesman Colin Hurst says. “The last thing farmers struggling through high interest rates, low payouts and drought conditions want to be waking up to is news that more red tape is likely on the way later this year.”

A draft of the Regional Plan released last year included fertiliser caps, stock rate limits and new fencing requirements for most of the catchments in the Otago Region.

Since that draft was released, central Government has made amendments to primary legislation, relaxing timeframes by which time new regional plans need to be developed.

The Government has also stated it intends to review the national direction councils must achieve, including the requirement to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai.

ORC’s decision completely ignores the Government’s direction, Hurst says.

“Charging ahead with a draft plan will create a lot of uncertainty for Otago farmers.

“There is a strong chance it could be a big waste of ratepayer money. The Government is reviewing both the national freshwater direction and the entire RMA framework, so it could be that Otago is forced to go back to the drawing board in just a few short years to develop yet another regional rule set.

“Cabinet has extended the deadline for councils to implement freshwater plans until the end of 2027, so why on earth would ORC or other councils choose to push on?

“It’s extremely disappointing that ORC is galloping ahead, wasting ratepayers’ money and heightening farmer anxiety, when changes mean their plan will have a lifespan of barely two years.”

Hurst is concerned other councils could also look to charge ahead in the same way as Otago.

“The Government has stated it wants to cut the red tape that’s choking farmers, including replacing the RMA with a framework more focused on property rights.

“It is clear the Government needs to do more to stop councils continuing to implement freshwater rules they themselves have stated they disagree with, and will soon change.”


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