Stuff - Southland Water and Land Plan to be appealed

Originally published 20 April, 2018

Written by Evan Harding

Fish & Game will appeal the Southland Water and Land Plan, while Federated Farmers is also likely to appeal.

Southland Fish & Game manager Zane Moss said the plan, as it is currently stands, "certainly won't halt the decline in water quality".

"We have decided to appeal it, the scope of [the appeal] we are still working on." 

Moss said the plan was a lot more permissive than the draft plan had been.

Fish & Game, which oversees the management of the country's sports fish and game resources, would lodge its appeal near the May 17 cutoff point, Moss said.

Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said the group were also likely to appeal. 

He also declined to reveal the specific reasons at this stage, but said its executive team believed there was room for more thought on some of the rules. 

"We are mindful it's a plan for the wider community, not just the farmers, however, we do want a workable plan."

Some refinement would make it a more workable plan, he said.

The plan seeks to maintain water quality in Southland and improve water quality through good management practices, while setting up framework to enable further improvements.

It seeks to manage farming activities that contribute to disproportionate amounts of contaminants, such as nitrogen, phosphorous and sediments entering waterways.

When the draft plan was out for public consultation, many farmers slammed it as being impractical, unworkable and not economically feasible for farmers.

When the final version was released on April 4, Baird said the hearing commissioners had listened to farmers and there had been wind backs.

However, the Federated Farmers executive team was likely to confirm it would appeal the plan following its meeting on May 3, Baird said this week.

He confirmed Federated Farmers, which lobbies on behalf of farmers, was happier with the plan than the earlier draft plan.

"The work done by the [hearing] commissioners has made a more workable plan for farmers and the wider community," he said.

"We don't want to give the view we are unhappy with what the commissioners have done ... there have been some good moves made but there are still some large issues to address." 

Lloyd McCallum, an Environment Southland councillor and one of the five hearing commissioners who wrote the plan, said they had expected several appeals to be lodged.

"It's their right to do that ... that's the process."

The hearing commissioners had done their work and would not be involved in the appeal process, he said.

"The commissioners have done what was asked of us, we did it to the best of our ability."

The parties who end up appealing will go into mediation and if no resolution is found the matter will go to the Environment Court, McCallum said.

Environment Southland acting policy and planning manager Fleur Matthews said Environment Southland staff would run the appeal/mediation process.