An unworkable and economically damaging recent Environment Court decision will not be challenged by Horticulture New Zealand because of the cost and time involved.
The court’s decision to uphold an appeal from Ngati Kahungunu in Hawke’s Bay was based on the interpretation of the words “maintenance and enhancement” of freshwater bodies.
The Court says those words mean the water quality within every single water body must be managed in a way that water quality is maintained or enhanced.
HortNZ believes this interpretation is going to cause huge problems because it goes against the direction the government has taken in its national policy for freshwater, which allows local communities to decide how their water bodies are maintained.
HortNZ says the decision could be used to challenge the development of land across the country for any purpose.
“This is simply unworkable. Land use is always changing, to meet the needs of communities. This can’t always happen with nil effect,” HortNZ natural resources manager Chris Keenan says.
HortNZ estimates the cost of appealing the decision would be well over $100,000, and with the considerable and increasing grower commitments to farm planning, environmental research and water quality tools it cannot justify the expense.
“We are deeply concerned about the effect of this decision across the country, but growers can’t afford to fight it alone, and the issue is not ours alone.”
Activities such as urbanisation, farming, development of roads and other infrastructure can all have adverse effects on freshwater.
“Central government will need to take a long, hard look at this decision and the words used in it.
“Because the way it reads now, activities like regional development, greenfields subdivision and infrastructure development can all be challenged if they have impacts on water quality,” Chris says.