26 Sep 2012

Farmers appeal against environmental rules

7:22 am on 26 September 2012

Federated Farmers and Horticulture New Zealand have lodged appeals in the High Court challenging Environment Court rulings on the much debated Manawatu-Whanganui regional plan.

The Environment Court rejected appeals against the regional council's One Plan, which breaks new ground in the way it proposes to make farmers accountable for nutrient run-off and leaching from farms and market gardens to protect water ways.

Its ruling means that all intensive farming and horticulture operations will need nutrient management plans and consents. That includes irrigated sheep and beef and cropping farms, as well as dairy farms and market gardens.

There are also more stringent rules on hill country erosion control and protecting biodiversity.

Horticulture New Zealand has appealed on behalf of the 200 commercial growers in the region. Chief executive Peter Silcock says one of the big worries is whether it will restrict essential crop rotation practices.

Federated Farmers' Manawatu-Rangitikei president Andrew Hoggard says the Environment Court has gone too far in its ruling and has made errors of law that need to be examined in an appeal.

The court has effectively gone back to the original version of the One Plan, rejecting the less rigid recommendations of the commissioners who heard submissions, the Feilding dairy farmer says.

"For a lot of farmers, the main concern is around the practicality of the plan and the cost that it's going to add ... and what it may mean for the regional economy."