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Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough

26 November 2015

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.”

Other key aspects of the Bill supported by Federated Farmers are:

• Addressing the duplication between the RMA and other acts. A good example of this is the conflict between what the Building Act sets as levels of flood protection and the different standards in some local government plans.
• Proposed changes requiring councils to make their plans clear and concise, and their processes timely and efficient.
• Long overdue changes to the Public Works Act, which on the face of it will provide for easier and fairer compensation when the rights of landowners are taken away or significantly reduced.
• Simplification of the planning system which will hopefully allow those farmers who seek to enhance the wetlands on their properties, or who need to clear out a waterway without needless and costly bureaucratic processes getting in the way.

While welcoming these proposed changes and looking forward to playing an active role in the legislative process, Federated Farmers is concerned that the reforms don’t go far enough.

“As it stands in this Bill farmers will continue to face restrictions on what they can do on farmland which is classified as an ‘outstanding natural landscape’. This unfairly limits farmers’ ability to plant trees, add new buildings and install new fences, which ironically is what the Bill wants farmers to do to keep stock away from lakes and rivers,” says Mr. Allen.

“Federated Farmers would have liked to see greater consideration of economic benefits and property rights. We also called for parity in the consultation required with landowners affected by local government plans and rules, for instance around rezoning or applying a package of rules that restrict farming activities.”

ENDS

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