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Proposed RMA changes ‘an okay first stab’

3 February 2009

Proposed RMA changes ‘an okay first stab’ says farmers

“Broadly speaking Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement and supports many of the changes to speed up the RMA process, but feels the discussion document to the much heralded Resource Management Act (Simplify & Streamline) Amendment Bill, is just an okay first stab,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“To farmers looking for a quick fix to the Resource Management Act (RMA), there is still quite a way to go. Some may see today’s announcement as being a little flat. Today is but the first phase of a long process to transform the RMA into what it was originally envisaged to be.

“Federated Farmers knew that when we won a major review of the Resource Management Act from the new Government, the low hanging fruit would be grabbed first. That’s why the Federation will withhold judgement on whether the changes are positive or negative, until the Federation’s policy experts have gone over the Bill’s wording with a fine tooth comb.

“While many of the changes will be good from a macro infrastructure sense, the economy turns on its farmers and small businesses. That means we have a lot of detail to work through as the devil is truly in the detail and how that detail specifically affects our hard working farmers.

“The Bill’s wording must put an end to farmers being farmed by councils, consultants, planners and lawyers. If it doesn’t, the Government and the responsible Minister will be asked some tough questions.

“For instance, I recently took a call from one of our members who faced massive costs because a council was brow beaten by opponents into notifying their resource consent application. This came despite any type of farming being a legitimate activity in the area. Meanwhile, another council with similar applications, chose not to publicly notify them. These inconsistencies cost real businesses a lot of money and time.

“The costs imposed on individual small business owners and farmers have little to do with the effect on the environment, but more to do with community perception of the activity concerned. Federated Farmers expects that the Bill will actually turn the RMA into a rational planning document.

“This is phase one. We still have to see phase two where the Government must strengthen the rights of individuals to claim compensation when their property rights are lost ‘in the public good’. This was in the original draft of the RMA some 18 years ago. Some farmers will be dubious about changes that are aimed at streamlining projects of national significance and improving national instruments, without strengthening the rights of individuals to receive compensation.

“The Federation will be very disappointed if these issues are not addressed during the select committee process. Bring on the select committee stage and quickly as . The Federation will continue to work hard for the interests of farmers,” Mr Nicolson concluded.


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