By Rhea Dasent, Federated Farmers Regional Policy Advisor
Federated Farmers is encouraging the Central Hawkes Bay District Council to be precise and accurate with landscape mapping in its District Plan, to avoid the lightbulb moment that Waipa District Council recently experienced.
Waipa District Council needs to apply for resource consent, from itself, in order to harvest its own forest. This has sparked debate amongst the councillors concerned about the cost and delay of the resource consent.
Waipa DC wanted to harvest 36 hectares of plantation forestry that it owns on the edges of Mount Pirongia, but its District Plan classified the exotic forest as part of the Pirongia Outstanding Natural Landscape, and requires resource consent for harvesting.
The Waipa Mayor said it was ridiculous that a forest block is caught up in a significant natural area, meaning they’ve got to be careful not to shoot themselves in the foot.
This is a frustration shared by many private landowners, including those in Central Hawkes Bay, who also have areas of pasture, or planted trees or even weeds and gorse classified as a special landscape or SNA.
The Waipa case highlights to councils that ground-truthing and making sure their lines on a map match the reality on the ground is vital to make sure land is not being unnecessary regulated for qualities it doesn’t actually have.
Federated Farmers has found that many councils don’t seem to care much that farmland or weeds are being classified as Outstanding Natural Landscapes or Significant Natural Areas, or that resource consent rules are expensive, delay work and erode production income.
But now that a council has demonstrated that it too can be negatively affected by resource consent requirements, maybe they will suddenly be more careful about accurate mapping.
Federated Farmers is pleased that Central Hawkes Bay District Council put a lot of effort into informing landowners about SNAs being mapped on their farms and into ground-truthing, but we worry that this same effort wasn’t afforded for Outstanding Natural Landscapes, Significant Amenity Features, High Natural Character Areas, and Sites of Significance to Maori.
We want mapping mistakes to be avoided, because the consequences for landowners are high when farmland is being unfairly regulated.