1 Mar 2013

Hikurangi farmers refuse to fence off rivers

10:21 am on 1 March 2013

Whangarei farmers leasing council riverbank land are refusing to fence it off to keep stock out of the water.

Farmers who lease council land in the Hikurangi Swamp Drainage Scheme were supposed to have fenced off 50 kilometres of riverbank by 1 March.

They have not done so because they say it is the responsibility of Whangarei District Council which owns the land not the lessees.

Farmer Neville Thorne said it is unreasonable of the council to expect farmers to fence land they do not own.

Meanwhile, Mr Thorne and three other farmers in the Hikurangi Drainage Scheme are taking the council to the High Court over a resource consent allowing changes to stopbanks on their farms which has increased flooding on some land.

The four landowners are claiming the council has failed to manage a serious conflict of interest.

Spokesperson Ben Smith said councillor Greg Martin stood to benefit from the changes as did council chief executive Mark Simpson through his wife's family trust as both have interests in land that now receives less floodwater.

In a written statement, the council said it is aware of who owns property in the Hikurangi scheme and has processes in place to manage conflicts of interest.