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Three households, three broken dreams

By Malcolm Campbell.

A percentage of the population have dreams - some have a wish list; some have a business venture in mind; some have a vision of how they can be successful and help their communities. Here are the trials and tribulations of three families attempting to support their communities.

Dairying to Egg farming Max and Millie (not their real names) had been dairy farming for many years and eventually decided to depart from dairying and try an alternative type of business. Near a Waikato town, not far from Coromandel Peninsula, they purchased two poultry sheds for age free farming. Once they had settled into the new venture, they decided that with room to spare they could comfortably handle a third shed. Approaching the council of the day, they were advised to talk to their neighbours to sound out those close to the venture to find out if there was serious opposition to the expansion.

Since taking over the poultry sheds there had been no complaints about dust, or odour, not a single complaint. Quite confidently, they applied for a Resource Consent. Firstly, to help with the application, a solicitor was consulted and then this solicitor recommended they consult a lawyer with more experience in the RMA and consent applications. A Hearing into the application was scheduled and both the District Council and the Regional Council heard the application. The Regional Council is involved because chickens cause a discharge to air.

One objection was lodged the day before the hearing and their lawyer arrived late for the hearing and as proceedings progressed, in total there were five objections. It costs almost nothing to object on any type of argument at all, just think up some perceived problem, noise from trucks, danger to children, the imagination can run wild. In fact, some opposed the applicant simply because as neighbours, they never had the friendliest relationship.

The Hearing panel unanimously rejected the application for a Resource Consent. Max and Millie were left just over one hundred and five thousand dollars the poorer, fined essentially for wanting to improve their earning capacity, while the non-productive lot waltzed off with the money.

Diversifying to chicken farming Roger and Marion (real names) found themselves in a very similar situation. They had proven their capabilities by winning ‘The National Dairy Farm of the Year’ at the Mystery Creek National Field Days. Roger and Marion had also bought two small blocks of land with a view to expanding their farming operation. On one of these small areas they had set up two chicken sheds of the same type as the previous family described.

They then decided to build a new house which would be closer to the chicken sheds, where they were planning to build two more sheds and be in a much better position to attend to day-to-day operations.

To facilitate the whole operation, there was the requirement for another Resource Consent. They felt as if they were going right back to the start of the operation. To put forward evidence for the granting of the consent, a detailed booklet was printed and ran to one hundred pages. They worked very hard and provided everything they felt could be imagined. At this stage they were thoroughly disillusioned by the whole process and decided that enterprising people were no longer welcome or worthy of assistance.

Worse, a joint hearing by the Regional and District Councils into the Resource Consent application declined the application. That was the final straw. Being a dogged couple, they made application to appeal the decision to the Environment Court but had already decided to leave New Zealand. They were on their way to Auckland Airport making this big step, when their lawyer phoned to say their appeal had been successful and the Consent had been granted. The small booklet of evidence Roger and Marion had put together was worth a thousand dollars a page another hundred thousand plus into the pockets of the unproductive. The Resource Consent stays with the farm.

Roger and Marion with their family are now successful business owners on the Australian Gold Coast. They would have saved most of their money had they just packed up and gone to Australia. It is cheaper than a Resource Consent.

Tours on the Waihou Alan ran a very successful catering business and was known far and wide. He also was a man of many talents and among other things, was a qualified marine engineer. He saw the potential of the Waihou River as a tourist attraction by running some boats on the river. The Waihou River was once the main means of transport to and from Auckland to just north of Matamata. There was nothing new in having boats on the river. What was new was the Resource Consent and its process.

When Alan applied for a resource consent, the council staff asked for a fee to pay for the cost of examining the proposal and Alan paid. When he went to check on progress, more money was required and Alan paid. This happened three times with no sign of progress over a decent length of time or any definitive answer. In Alan’s own words “I am not going to keep shovelling money into your bottomless pit”. Alan has also taken his knowledge and drive to another country.

Caption: Malcolm Campbell.


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