Need for national RMA debate endorsed

21 Nov 2007

Forest owners have endorsed a call by Federated Farmers for a national debate about the Resource Management Act. NZFOA president Peter Berg says the Act is the cornerstone of New Zealand’s environmental legislation and it needs to be made to work better.

“It needs to achieve a better balance between economic development and the protection of environmental and landscape values,” he says.

“Processes need to be streamlined and, in order to achieve greater certainty and less time wasted in hearings, more use needs to be made of national instruments. In other words if you are planting or harvesting a forest, the same rules should apply in the same circumstances – no matter where the forest is located.”

Mr Berg says the RMA is one of a growing number of Acts, rules and regulations which limit the rights of private land owners, or which require individuals to provide an involuntary benefit to the wider community.

“Before making these impositions, national, regional and local government should at the very least be required to consult with affected property owners. In a situation where the wider community benefits from a private individual forgoing their rights, appropriate compensation should be paid.”

He said the Public Works Act provided for proper compensation of land owners who were required to surrender land for the public good. It was a model which could be applied in many RMA-type situations.

Mr Berg says farmers and foresters have differing perspectives on some land-use issues.

“However, we have a common concern that regulators are constraining our ability to do business without effective consultation or where appropriate, compensation. The RMA is meant to be about sustainability – environmental, economic and social.

“This is not being achieved. Indeed land owners are often being constrained by what appear to be mindless bureaucratic rules and costly legal processes without any discernible benefit for the environment, the community or anyone else.”

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For more information, please contact Peter Berg, tel 021 421 291