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RMA 'Tune-Up' Set To Fail Farmers

13 May 2004

RMA 'Tune-Up' Set To Fail Farmers

Farmers are disappointed at the narrow focus of the government's review of the Resource Management Act (RMA), said John Aspinall, a Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) National Board member.

Mr Aspinall said there was little in the detailed scope of the review programme, announced yesterday by Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope, that would give hope to farmers.

"Farmers want the RMA to be traded in for something much better, rather than, to use Mr Benson-Pope's words, merely 'tuned up'.

"The RMA is the legislative equivalent of an East German Trabant. Give it a tune-up, and you still have a Trabant.

"The minister says he is looking to achieve the right balance between national and local interests. But there is no reference to the balance between private and national interests.

"There are some aspects of the review that may help. It would be good to achieve certainty of both costs and time taken to get a consent. But certainty is of little value if those costs and time frames are unreasonable.

"Too frequently the costs of the consent are too high compared to the overall price of a typical development project on a farm," he said.

Farmers have been calling for a review of part two of the RMA which gives councils and government agencies the ability to force landowners to carry huge costs for the wider public benefit.

After six years of review and submissions, successive governments have refused to look at the fundamental problem of requiring land owners to meet the costs of protecting landscape, and conserving areas of native vegetation and heritage sites for the public benefit without financial support or compensation.

Nevertheless Federated Farmers looks to participate fully in this review and will seek to deliver a better balance between private and national interest.


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