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Farmer concerns over living heritage rules


3 December 2008

One Plan - Farmer concerns over living heritage rules

Federated Farmers told the One Plan hearing panel in Palmerston North on Monday December 1 that contents of the proposed plan and a number of rules will restrict normal farming activities.

Representatives from four Federation provinces spoke at the Biodiversity and Historic Heritage section hearing which covers rare and threatened habitats, wetland protection and historic places.

Wanganui president, Brian Doughty said the Federation agreed with Horizons Regional Council that the involvement and commitment of private landowners is crucial to halting biodiversity decline.

Mr Doughty told the hearing that Federated Farmers is comfortable with a planning approach that encourages landowners to adopt responsible management and environmental practices. The Federation is concerned farming practices will be restricted due to rules which could be applied to biological diversity, including: indigenous vegetation, swamps, tussock lands and natural springs.

Federated Farmers asked that individual assessments should be made in consultation with affected landowners, rather than blanket restrictions being imposed upon all landowners with areas of indigenous vegetation, swamps, wetlands and springs.

"Landowners should be provided with incentives to permanently protect and manage rare and threatened areas. Only areas that meet national importance criteria should be scheduled. Lesser areas should be protected entirely by non-regulatory methods," Mr Doughty said.

"The risk with new rules is that a lot of productive farm land will be captured in a policy 'drag net' aimed at protecting just a minuscule area.

"Many landowners voluntarily take time and make the effort to protect special areas on their property. They farm around these already responsibly with the environment to the fore. All Federated Farmers is asking is that these efforts now be recognised," said Mr Doughty.

One Plan hearings continue this week with the controversial reconvened Land hearing on Friday. Farming on land that slopes 25 degrees or more could become severely restricted under the proposed plan.

Hill country farmers in the Horizons region (Wanganui, Tararua, Ruapehu and Manawatu/ Rangitikei) are urged to support Federated Farmers in its submission at 9.30am at the Horizons council chambers in Palmerton North. The Taumarunui Farmers Action Group will also speak on the issue at 1pm.

ENDS

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