Federated Farmers is pleased that Horizons Regional Council (Manawatu-Whanganui) has recognised the need to get on and get work done on farm by empowering them to fix infrastructure without getting consents.
“Common sense, rather than red tape and costs, is what will speed the recovery of the food and fibre sector in cyclone-hit districts,” Federated Farmers Tararua President Sally Dryland says.
Horizons had earlier posted advice about only allowing “like for like” replacement of culverts without consent but advocacy from Dryland resulted in a nimble policy u-turn.
The council’s advice now is that where infrastructure such as farm bridges and culverts have been damaged or destroyed, these can be replaced without the need for resource consent on the basis they are repaired or reinstated on a like for like basis. Culverts can also be replaced at a bigger size.
“Why would you replace a culvert with the same sized one if it’s just been washed away?” Dryland said.
“It’s about building back better and smarter. No one wants to replace infrastructure with something that is destined to fail again in the next weather event.”
Up until last year farmers were empowered to put in things like a culvert without requiring a consent.
“That’s what’s needed to speed the recovery. Let’s not stop the right thing from happening because a ticket collector with a clipboard hasn’t been onto farm to see,” Dryland said.
Meanwhile Federated National Farmers President Andrew Hoggard has asked Environment Minister David Parker to promptly amend the RMA to enable Cyclone Gabrielle affected farmers and growers to undertake remedial work that may be in breach of district or regional regulatory requirements along similar lines to that provided to farmers following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes. Such works became a permitted activity, with modified notification requirements.
While the RMA provides some relief from normal requirements during and immediately following emergencies/adverse events this will not cover all the urgent work that needs to be undertaken to restore farmers’ and growers’ operations,” Hoggard said.
“That legislation in the wake of the earthquakes was very helpful,” Hoggard said.
“Given the severity of the impact of the cyclones – with devastation to the land that appears to exceed that of the Christchurch earthquakes – the usual time-consuming RMA processes will impede progress.”