Federated Farmers plan to take the regional council to the Environment Court over a plan which includes the need for farmers to fence off minor waterways from all livestock. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Federated Farmers Wairarapa is gearing up for a fight.

They plan on taking the Greater Wellington Regional Council to the Environment Court after the published Proposed Natural Resources Plan which calls on farmers to fence off minor waterways from all livestock.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa William Beetham confirmed it would be appealing the plan, as there were aspects which would make farming near impossible.

“There’s a lot of issues coming down the pipeline which are important to our community,” he told a roomful of farmers in Masterton on Wednesday evening.

“The plan is not practical. It’s going to be very difficult to work around.”

Beetham also warned it wasn’t just farmers who would be impacted, but urban ratepayers, with requirements around stormwater, wastewater and road runoff contaminants.

He said Federated Farmers was also taking eight other regional councils to the Environment Court.

As such, it was important Wairarapa farmers got behind the body with funding to support the appeal.

“There is a huge amount of support for Federated Farmers to take action on this and the community is behind us.”

Bideford farmer Jamie Falloon also addressed the room, highlighting the issues in the plan.

All livestock, including sheep, would need to be excluded from Category 2 waterways under the regional plan – sheep would still be allowed to access the more sensitive Category 1 waterways.

These rules would not only be applied to the Wairarapa flats but would also apply to hill country farms.

Natural wetlands would also need to be fenced off and there would be consenting issues around stock water takes near wetland areas.

Falloon estimated he’d need to spend more than $1 million to cover the 46 kilometres of exclusion fencing needed on his 600-hectare [effective] sheep and beef farm.

“It’s 20 per cent of the farm essentially. It’s got no value for the farm and very little value for the environment.”

He said farmers felt like they hadn’t been listened to in the submissions process and that the new rules were untenable.

Farmers didn’t have any choice but to try and appeal it, he said.

“We are not going to go through this process without the support of local farmers.”

He warned against those who thought they could get away with breaches of the rules citing more common usage of drone technology.

“All it takes is one complaint,” he said.

Glenburn farmer and Carterton Water Race Committee member John McFadzean asked if they shouldn’t just participate in an act of mass civil disobedience, and tell GWRC, “no”.

Others in the room questioned where the policy shift had come from when previous discussions had just been limited to excluding cattle.

Many felt it was directly related to the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways announced by central government on Thursday morning.

A second meeting was held at Te Waihinga Centre in Martinborough on Thursday night.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa is seeking donations to help with the appeal which must be lodged by 5pm, September 18.