Ratepayers urged to attend workshop

Uncertain future. . . Hokonui Hills farmer Nathan Bokser could likely end up applying for resource consents in order to carry on farming in the area if the Gore District Plan is approved in its present form. PHOTO: TRUDY BOKSER

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt is encouraging ratepayers to attend a workshop about the Gore District Plan.

The meeting will be held at the Gore and Districts Memorial RSA tomorrow from 1pm to 2pm.

Mrs Hunt said given the importance of the document, residents should consider submitting on the plan.

‘‘We are concerned that the vast majority of Gore district’s ratepayers seem largely unaware that this consultation process is going on.

‘‘So we encourage ratepayers to come along and get an overview of some of the key areas of change within the plan, so that they can go away and write their own submission.’’

Submissions close on November 27.

She said Federated Farmers was especially interested in speaking to business owners.

‘‘It is no secret that when the rural sector experiences a downturn, there are significant effects on businesses and jobs throughout the district.

‘‘That’s why we believe everyone in the district should be considering making a submission.’’

The council had already agreed to a Federated Farmers request to extend the submission deadline because of calving and lambing.

Federated Farmers had also requested the council engage with them as they developed their submission.

‘‘The reality is that a lot of the plan’s changes are driven by new regulation from government.

‘‘Council have been very willing to engage and it makes sense to work collaboratively to find solutions that meet council’s requirements while also being practical for farming.’’

She said Federated Farmers had concerns about some aspects of the plan.

‘‘There are also areas that seem to be lacking a practical farming lens, resulting in onerous and impractical restrictions.’’

She said the natural outstanding features and landscapes, and indigenous biodiversity chapters were added late in the process and with little stakeholder consultation, following the late release of policies by the government.

‘‘These chapters have significant implications, particularly for farmers on the Hokonui Hills, and look likely to see a range of normal farming practices become subject to resource consent processes.’’