21 Feb 2010

Council rules approach seen as inflexible

3:35 pm on 21 February 2010

Federated Farmers describes plans by the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council to streamline its resource consents process as too prescriptive and inflexible.

The proposal, known as the One Plan, combines various resource management plans into a single document covering the next 10 years.

Commissioners have this week been hearing submissions from organisations including Federated Farmers, on the plan's water section, which would require some intensive farming activities to obtain resource consents to operate.

As part of the new process, farmers would have to have a plan to reduce nutrients and contaminants going into streams and lakes.

But the federation says the rules do not allow for changes in outside influences such as variability of exchange rates and weather patterns which affect farmers decision-making.

Manawatu/Rangitikei president Gordon McKeller says it just becomes a nightmare.

Mr McKeller says ideally he would like to see farming remain a permitted activity in the region, instead of landowners having to apply for a new consent each time they want to change a part of their farm management.

Delay requested

Meanwhile Fonterra has asked the Commissioners to delay the introduction of regulations for reducing nitrate loss for five years, so information can be gathered on how much is currently being lost from farms, mitigation and the impact of reduction targets on farm viability.

While it supports goals for better water quality, Fonterra says it's concerned that the council is attempting to set targets without any real understanding of the current picture or future consequences.

Fonterra says onerous, untried and unproven requirements are being placed on dairy farmers.