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Mallard Urged To Fix RMA

Mallard Urged To Fix RMA
31 October 2007

Federated Farmers is urging the new environment minister, Trevor Mallard, to put reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA) at the top of his “fix-it” list.

“The RMA is in urgent need of an overhaul. Farmers hope that Mr Mallard has the courage and political will to fine tune an Act which is failing to achieve its goal of promoting sustainable resource management,” said Bruce McNab, the Federation’s environment spokesman.

“We have today requested a meeting with Mr Mallard to talk through the problems with the RMA and highlight the Federation’s ‘six pack’ of changes. These changes will fix the RMA without undermining its primary purpose.

“As it stands, the RMA is unfair, unpredictable and overly bureaucratic.

“All New Zealanders agree we have a collective responsibility to protect our country’s natural resources, biodiversity, culture, and natural heritage. When it comes to bearing the cost of that protection, our collective responsibility seems to dissolve away, and ends up being shouldered entirely by landowners.

“Farmers can effectively have large chunks of their privately-owned land locked out of reach by the RMA – without compensation and in some cases without prior consultation.

“The RMA is a compliance nightmare for farmers. Their rights constantly change under the Act - so they can never be certain that a legitimate decision made today regarding management of their land will still be legitimate next week, next year or in five years time.

“Farmers also invest huge amounts of money and time defending the rural sector against the Department of Conservation and environmental advocates who seem to think farms should be managed with resource consents.

“As the country’s biggest industry, farming is the lifeblood of New Zealand’s economy – it underpins our standard of living. Yet the RMA, and the way it is implemented by councils, has an overly heavy burden on the rural sector. It erodes the productive capacity of our farms and compromises the long-term viability of farming. Rather than promoting sustainable resource management, the Act is ignoring the critical role responsible landowners play in managing natural resources on private land.

Among frustrated farmers and most primary producers there is now strong agreement and a collective will for changes to the RMA and the way it is implemented.

“On November 20 the Federation will release a booklet summarising its suggestions for fixing the Act. We would like to brief the Minister before this official launch,” Mr McNab said.

“Farmers also invest huge amounts defending the rural sector against the Department of Conservation and some environmental advocates who seem to think farms are best managed with resource consents. We urge the new Conservation Minster, Steve Chadwick, to refocus the Department of Conservation’s advocacy spend in the RMA on reforging partnerships with landowners, education and supporting the excellent stewardship of conservation values on private land,” Mr McNab said.

Bruce McNab, 027 239 4821

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