è Land use activities can adversely affect the quality, versatility or retention of topsoil, the natural landscape and ecosystems and amenity values.
The productive land resource in Westland is finite and limited by the dominance of steep bush and mountainous areas. Consequently most fertile soils are restricted to strips along the main rivers, smaller streams or on alluvial fans. The richest soils in Westland are the Hokitika soils and have formed on recent alluvium deposited by rivers (including the Hokitika, Kokatahi and Waitaha Rivers). Ikamatua soils are also among the most fertile but have an extremely limited distribution. Small pockets are found on the north bank of the Arahura River and in the vicinity of Kokatahi and Kowhitirangi. Other soils with good pastoral potential include Harihari soils located along Taramakau, Arahura, Kaniere and Kokatahi Rivers and in substantial stretches in the Harihari/Whataroa locality. However drainage of Harihari soils is required before agricultural use. Other soils suitable with medium value for farming purposes include the Mahinapua soils. These soils occur in a narrow coastal strip from the Taramakau River in the north to the Mikonui and Waitaha Rivers in the south.
The dominant agricultural activities in Westland are dairying (especially in the north of the District) and beef farming (most common in south Westland). Some of New Zealand's richest and most productive farms are found within the District. Other types of productive land use include sheep, deer and mixed livestock farming and forestry. Westland District is not a significant pig farming area with only nine farms recorded as containing pigs in 1992.
Land which is not in agricultural use in Westland is dominated by forest or including regenerating indigenous vegetation, and is often located on steeper sloping hillsides. Soil quality is low, ranging from Class IV to Class VIII land. (New Zealand Land Resources Inventory). However much of this land has important erosion control value. Where activities have an effect on soil conservation, the Regional Council is responsible for their control.
The 1986 West Coast Accord, a contract between the Crown, West Coast local government, national conservation interests and the West Coast timber industry provides for the maintenance of the sawmilling industry on the West Coast and a transition from non-sustainable management of Crown forests to sustained yield management of Crown production forests.
The productive land resource in Westland is generally managed with a commitment to the sustainability of the soil. However external and internal factors, particularly the general decline in farm incomes can pressure the land resource and lead to overuse or its conversion so that it is no longer available for primary production. Diversification of the rural economy is generally desirable but it should not prejudice protection of the overall productive potential of the soil resource and maintenance of the unique lifestyle opportunities available within the District.
In some instances the economic viability of a farm will depend on access to Crown lease-hold land. The security of tenure of these leases is of particular concern to the rural community. It is essential that the options available to rural communities to remain viable are kept open or not unduly restricted. This includes the ability to enhance the productive use of land for example through moss harvesting.
Demand for rural-residential subdivision development close to settlements is an example of possible pressure on the productive land resource. However, demand is not great for such development so undue constraint is not considered necessary given the benefit of attracting people to the District. The outer edges of settlements are however, defined to avoid unnecessary expansion onto rural land and ribbon development. Subdivision in the rural area down to 5000m2 minimum lot sizes, controls residential development with regard to access and suitable lot sizes in accordance with market demand.
This approach has the positive effect of conserving more land for primary production, by not forcing larger than desired rural residential lots.
Where land adjoining a waterbody is subdivided, some land may be required to be set aside for an esplanade reserve, esplanade strip or access strip. Westland District contains many kilometres of land adjoining waterbodies. As the pressure for subdivision is low it is unlikely that a connected system of esplanade reserves will develop. The Council therefore considers that applications to waive or reduce requirements may be acceptable provided that there are no outstanding conservation, recreation or access values.
3.8.1 To avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects of land use activities on land and water resources.
3.8.2 To protect and maintain the productive potential of the higher quality soils in Westland District.
Recognises the contribution that utilisation of the productive land resource makes, and will continue to make, to the character of Westland.
Allows control of effects which might have a direct impact on sustainability of the productive land resource and the wider ecosystem including environmental amenities.
Recognises the finite nature of the productive land resource, and the potentially conflicting uses of the resource.