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Good News On Way?

21 December 2004
PR 231/04
Good News On Way?

Reports that the government is poised to compromise and compensate farmers for public access over their land suggests it has listened to the rural sector and has an open mind on this issue, said John Aspinall, a National Board member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"We welcome the suggestion that compensation is part of the government's access reforms. However the hint of compensation is not good enough," he said.
"Farmers should not be compelled to give up their property rights through the heavy hand of legislation."

Mr Aspinall's comments follow media reports that the government has left open the door to compensating landowners for creating a right of access along waterways on their land.

"Whether the government pays compensation or not, public access to private land needs to be by negotiation and should only be at the complete discretion of landowners. Farmers should retain the right to decline access in certain circumstances to minimise risks to themselves, their property, and their businesses.

"We have always said that improved access should be achieved through negotiation followed by compensation, rather than using legislation to force landowners to give up their property rights," he said.

Mr Aspinall said increased public access raised many issues for landowners, and these would be examined in detail when the government's access policy statement is released.

"The concerns with increased access include heightened risks linked to rural security, disease and pests, and animal welfare. There is also the impact on farm operations and productivity," he said.

"There is no proof that access across private land is a problem. An FFNZ survey shows 92% of farmers provide access if first asked. The government needs to prove a problem exists before developing any legislation that would destroy the goodwill that currently exists between landowners and groups wanting access."


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