Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says it supports the need for reforming the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) but opposes the proposed new Bills in their current form.
B+LNZ made its submission on the Government’s RMA reform consultation on Friday. It agrees reform is needed to improve efficiency and effectiveness but calls on the Government to withdraw and rework the proposed Bills.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says B+LNZ has worked with a wide range of sector groups as his organisation has developed its submission, and the groups all have similar concerns.
“Any reform of New Zealand’s resource management system will impact the way sheep and beef farmers will be able to farm. It’s therefore critical that such a substantial reform process is well thought-out and will lead to positive change.
“Significant concern has been expressed across the sector, and beyond, about the process to date, and the resulting proposed Bills. Put simply, the Government has not got it right yet.
“It has been very difficult to assess and provide comprehensive feedback on the Bills within the limited timeframe of the consultation period, and with incomplete information. It’s yet another example of the Government trying to do too much, too fast.
“They need to hit pause and take the time to get this right, and work with the people this will affect to ensure we all get the best outcomes.”
Mr McIvor says on a wider level, farmers are already grappling with too much change.
“Farmers are feeling overwhelmed with the environment-related policy changes that have already come their way, on top of labour shortages and high on-farm inflation. For some they’re also now faced with dealing with rebuilding their businesses after severe weather events.
“We’re urging the Government to halt the introduction of any new rules, including RMA reform.”
The Government announced its intention to replace the RMA through three bills in February 2021. Two bills are now at the select committee stage; the Natural and Built Environment Bill (NBE Bill) and the Spatial Planning Bill (SP Bill).
The NBE Bill would provide for a National Planning Framework (NPF), which is yet to be released, that would replace existing pieces of national direction.
“After reviewing the Bills, it has become clear that much of the proposed resource management system will be dependent on the form and content of the NPF, which is yet to be released.
“Without that detail, it’s impossible to provide a full analysis of the direction and implementation of the new bills, and therefore the impact on farmers.”
Specific concerns raised in the B+LNZ submission include the form and function of proposed regional planning committees and consideration of regional variances.
It raises concerns about farmers’ voices not being heard, and concerns that the Bills propose a significant level of responsibility and power to the Minister for the Environment and central Government.
Other concerns include potential duplication of existing legislation (such as the ability for regional plans to introduce greenhouse gas targets, which duplicates the Climate Change Response Act 2002) and issues around the proposed consenting regime.
Two key issues are the 10-year consent duration for activities involving the taking, using, damming, or diverting of water, or discharge of contaminants into water or onto land where it could enter water, and the market-based allocation method for discharges.
The proposal could result in uncertainty for farmers and most importantly, reduce their ability to invest in and plan for future operations.
Note to editors: download B+LNZ’s submission on the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill (PDF, 648 KB).
For more information, please contact B+LNZ's James Ford on 027 235 9806 or firstname.lastname@example.org