New RMA signals huge change for food and fibre production
“Changing the resource management framework is inter-generational change and it is needed. What’s not needed is more restriction, more compliance, and more uncertainty,” says Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning.
“The Natural and Built Environment (NBE) Bill, which has been introduced to Parliament to replace the Resource Management Act, will impact the entire food and fibre sector; every grower, farmer, harvester, and producer - particularly as it relates to water use.
“We agree on the importance of restoring and protecting our precious natural resources. We also believe that this can be done while enabling the careful use of water to underpin reliability and flexibility needed for our growers and farmers as they continue to reduce their production impact and emissions profile. Reliable water is the biggest enabler to lower emissions land use.
“We are worried the NBE Bill will lead to more uncertainty and more unnecessary compliance for water users involved in food and fibre production, and as a result that it will inhibit positive change, rather than enable it.
Some of our concerns relate to:
● a new water allocation regime yet to be designed but embedded in the bill;
● truncated water and discharge consents - 10 years max and only renewed and lengthened once a new allocation regime is in place;
● a new consenting process called the affected application process;
● increased powers to review, shorten or cancel existing consents;
● more layers of bureaucracy with the introduction of three new regulatory bodies as well as regional councils retaining their consenting power;
● the defining of farming and farm plans in the bill when other more intensive industries are not singled out;
● significant decision making power to be held exclusively by the Minister for the Environment, and
● significant detail yet to be decided, with a lack of clarity about how local input and catchment solutions will be incorporated.
“While standardising conditions and reducing 100 RMA plans to 15 looks good on paper - we do not see this draft legislation as enabling.
“We see the NBE Bill, as it stands, contradictory to the priorities and vision set out by Government for the RMA reform, as well as contradictory to what they are asking of the food and fibre sector; to secure New Zealand’s economic wellbeing via exports and accelerate New Zealand’s economic potential as we head into a recession.
“Additionally, we are concerned that the NBE Bill, as drafted, has cherry-picked certain types of infrastructure, and will not enable the development of regional water infrastructure in a way that reflects its national significance for the wellbeing of our communities, environment and economy.
“We believe water infrastructure needs to be prioritised with barriers removed, as has been done to enable renewable energy generation. Water capture and storage needs significant investment and consenting well past a 10 year horizon to secure that investment ” says Ms Winning.
IrrigationNZ is working with its members and other sectors on its submission with advice from Anderson Lloyd. And like many submitters, is extremely disappointed with the incredibly short timeline and timing of the submission process.
“This is some of the most important legislation and law to be formed in a generation. It significantly impacts every part of New Zealand. A submission timeline of less than three months and over the holiday season when we are still negotiating other impactful regulatory changes, and the Government has shut down, will not do this justice. We need coherent, sensible and bipartisan views for such significant change. This needs to be long lasting and right.
“We recognise the huge amount of work that has gone into putting the new resource management bills together over the last 3 years, and we believe submitters need due time to consider the 800 page document to meaningfully contribute to the outcome.
“We urge the Government to increase the timeline for submissions,” says Ms Winning.
For further comment contact:
IrrigationNZ Communications Manager Ella Stokes email@example.com
IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Vanessa Winning firstname.lastname@example.org