16 Jul 2010

Minister staying out of wineries' frost fan row

7:25 pm on 16 July 2010

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says he won't be getting involved in a dispute between the wine industry and local authorities over frost fan noise limits.

District councils in North Canterbury, Nelson and Marlborough have set the noise limit for fans at 55 decibels.

But grape growers says that's unworkable: it won't allow them, they say, to fully protect their crops from frost, because to reduce noise the fans have to be powered down.

Growers in Marlborough and Nelson have lodged appeals against their local limits in the past week, and growers in North Canterbury are taking legal action after talks with the Hurunui District Council failed.

The national industry body, New Zealand Winegrowers, says the Government needs to step in and settle the dispute by implementing national standards for frost fans.

Mr Hide says he feels for the growers, in that all they are doing is trying to protect their crops, but cannot step in to help.