Saturday, December 2, 2023

Farms part of cyclone buyout plans, Feds predicts

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Farms part of cyclone buyout plans, Feds predicts.
Land that is seen as high risk and unsafe to rebuild on will be labelled Category 3, and owners will be offered a voluntary buyout.
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The government buyout of cyclone-damaged properties is believed to include land currently in pastoral farming and horticulture, Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway says.

The government announced that properties will be given a category based on the extent of the damage and the potential for rebuilding.

Category 3 – the most severe – is land that is seen as high risk and unsafe to rebuild on. Owners will be offered a voluntary buyout by councils. The cost will be shared between the central government and councils.

Properties in Category 2 will have local and central government assistance in building flood protection and other resilience measures.

Category 1 properties are those with minor damage.

“There are certainly a lot of horticultural blocks, grapes and lifestyle blocks, apples and vegetable-growing blocks caught up in it,” Galloway said.

Areas of Esk Valley, particularly the valley floor, fall into the most severe category, as do Pākōwhai and parts of Rissington, he said.

He said parts of farms could also fall into one of the three categories.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said that initial indications are that across all regions there will be about 700 Category 3 properties, and up to 10,000 homes in Category 2 areas.

Galloway said there could also be a significant number of lifestyle blocks impacted.

“There will be quite a number of them affected as well. They have lost their house and a couple of acres around their house.”

There are still a lot of unanswered questions and issues to work through, including further details around the buy-back process and how local and central government will manage it.

The government’s immediate priority has been residential housing buyouts rather than non-residential land, he said.

According to the Hastings District Council website, this has been done to give people certainty about their homes and what to expect next.

“Further work is being done in this area, and we will be capturing your views on this as part of the engagement process,” it said.

There are no details yet of any restrictions for land use if farmland falls into one of the three classifications. But Galloway said he expects farmers and growers will use their common sense and not risk setting intensive horticulture operations on land that is prone to flood damage.

Looking ahead, he expected farmers whose land is reclassified to be part of that engagement process, starting mid-June.

Decisions on the details of how the voluntary buyout process will work will be made in the coming weeks. 

They will include the criteria for valuation of Category 3 properties, the splitting of costs between councils and central government and the treatment of uninsured properties.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the immediate focus is on residential properties. 

“We are working with sectors such as the horticulture sector on possible support for commercial operators, and on regional plans that will provide overall support for recovery and rebuild.” 

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