Hush payment to DoC signals time for RMA reform

“Thank you very much Meridian Energy – we now know the price of recognising conservation values on private land,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.  

“Thousands of hectares of indigenous vegetation and outstanding landscapes have been protected on private land by district and regional plans under the guise of section 6 of the Resource Management Act (RMA) and with no compensation for landowners.

“Farmers, just like the Department of Conservation (DoC), want recognition of the cost of the conservation work they do on private land, when Councils want to protect an area on behalf of the community. Whether it is called compensation or an environmental enhancement fund, it will be a long overdue recognition of good stewardship. We must do this right now, when the nation is entering into some constructive debate on essential RMA reform.

“This payment to DOC in return for it taking a neutral position on a resource consent signals two things. It places a price on conservation values for other landowners, but it also raises serious questions about DoC’s continuing advocacy role in RMA.

“Farmers across the country have been hammered with costs because of DoC’s approach to advocacy and the lack of compensation for the protection of conservation values on private land.

“Federated Farmers strongly believes DoC’s role in relation to private land should be restricted to management advice and assistance. DoC can fulfil its advocacy role under the Conservation Act by providing objective information about the conservation values present in a region, district or on any specific site to councils and landowners.

“Federated Farmers has been saying for some time now that DoC’s advocacy role must be reined in and that farmers must be compensated for the protection of conservation values on their own private land.

“It is high time to redirect DoC’s legal advocacy budget back into their birds and bush and high time that landowners receive some of that money when they are asked to protect thousands of hectares on behalf of the New Zealand public,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

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