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Federated Farmers slam 'RMA reform gone wrong'

Friday 30 June 2023, 6:25AM

By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

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The Government’s proposed RMA replacement is fatally flawed needs to be immediately withdrawn and started from scratch, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for RMA reform Mark Hooper.

"The Environment Committee’s 1,377-page report on the Natural and Built Environment Bill is of real concern for farmers and raises serious red flags when it comes to cost, clarity, and complexity.

"Instead of making improvements to the proposed legislation, it seems to have only made things worse. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on. This is RMA reform gone wrong.

"Given the number of changes that are being proposed, it’s unfathomable to think the Government are going to try to rush this legislation through before the election without further consultation.

"I don’t believe there’s enough time for politicians, let alone the public, to read and properly understand the implications of the changes before the Bill is passed into law next month".

Federated Farmers have repeatedly raised concerns that the proposed Natural and Built Environment Bill will lead to more drawn-out resource consenting processes, expensive and time-consuming court cases, higher costs for farmers, and less local democracy.

"The Select Committee process has done absolutely nothing to address the serious concerns that Federated Farmers have raised about the unnecessary cost and complexity farmers will face.

"New, vague, and undefined concepts will create huge uncertainty for landowners, slow down progress, and likely lead to time and money wasted with legal challenges through the courts.

"Disappointingly, there have been no substantive changes to proposals to shift local authority away from democratic councils and to new appointed Regional Planning Committees who will sit at arm's length from voters and alongside iwi representatives.

"This sort of framework will fundamentally dampen the ability for local communities to shape their own future, and is no way to make inherently political decisions the use of land and resources.

"We didn’t think it was possible, but somehow the Government have managed to deliver a piece of legislation that will be more complex and expensive to navigate than the much-maligned RMA.

"This Bill should be withdrawn immediately and replaced with a simple plain language law that will reduce red tape, uncertainty, and costs," Hooper concluded.