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Researchers Criticised Over 'One Plan' Investigation

22 November 2012

NEW ZEALAND - An Horizons Councillor has responded to an independent analysis of water and environment policy document 'One Plan' after it warned that policy changes would hamper farm profits by as much as 43 per cent, reports Michael Priestley.

Horizons Councillor, Bruce Gordon, has dismissed Landcare Research report Evaluation of the Impact of Different Policy Options for Managing to Water Quality Limits as being incorrect. Mr Gordon stated that the report analyses different policy scenarios in the Manawatu Catchment, and none of these policies reflect the decisions made by the Environment Court in relation to the 'One Plan' or outcomes sought through it.

"Landcare has indicated that none of the eight policy scenarios evaluated in the report for the Manawatu are comparable with the One Plan as decided by the Environment Court," stated Mr Burns. “In fact, the 43 per cent scenario highlighted in the media in terms of impact on profit bears no relationship to the context of the One Plan. I understand the scenario that comes closest to the One Plan shows profit impact of less that 1 per cent," stated Mr Burns.

The 'One Plan' scheme focuses on water quality, water demand, hill country land use and threatened habitats and stems from the Land and Water Forum (LaWF). The Forum is a policy guiding collective of government, business, science and farm groups who are striving to create a national framework that limits resource use whilst allowing local councils to set their own objectives.

Farm groups have responded to the Landcare research report findings by claiming that 'One Plan' will impact on farm profit and the Horizons council is 'in denial'.

"Thanks to Landcare Research's discoveries, we now have a good handle on 'One Plan' as it stands following the Environment Court decision. It scarily confirms the impact upon farm profitability will be at the upper end of 22 to 43 per cent," said Hew Dalrymple, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed vice-chairperson.

"If you are a member of the public, take up to 43 per cent off your post-tax income and you'll understand why we are angry."

Mr Gordon said he was aware of the concerns the farming community had over the plan's impact on farm profits but he and his council were committed to working with landowners to ensure that the plan was "practically and sensibly" implemented.

"We must now take a deep breath and work towards implementing what the court set out but do so in a way that supports those who have to make changes.

"We are not here to drive farmers off their land, we're here to deliver a future for our region that is both economically and environmentally sustainable."

Mr Dalrymple has urged the Council to listen to warnings and to remember that the Land and Water Forum report has been well received.

"Councillors appear to have little understanding of which version of the 'One Plan' they are talking about, let alone its effect upon agriculture. They appear to treat what council officers tell them as gospel," Mr Dalrymple said.

"The council must listen to proper research that comes directly out of the work done for LawF. Most parties gave LawF a positive reception".

You can view One Plan by clicking here.

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