Land access – some recent thoughts

I recently attended the Rural Law Conference in Canterbury, and a John Aspen from Federated Farmers addressed the conference on some of the following issues, which I found really interesting. The land access has become a key political issue.

Mr Sutton, under pressure from his colleagues and society, has backed away from pushing increased access to farmland back onto the backburner, but be assured that once the elections are over they will come straight back up again.

Some of the issues are as follows:
    - They want access to the sea, river, lakes and significant points of land, and they want to promote access to the Queen's chain. The government says they would like to wander at will, which is strongly opposed.

    - They want a 5 meter access strip, and wish the public to have automatic foot access over all significant water ways, now includes bush etc.

    - The public are not allowed to carry firearms, bring dogs, or go camping.

    - The access strip could extend to 20 meters wide in difficult terrain.

    - Farmers could apply for a 90 day exemption, for calving and lambing.

The interesting one is that application of signage and rubbish removal is the responsibility of the land owner. Imagine taking the rubbish away from a whole lot of people. Concerns the legislative removal of property rights is given to 3rd parties i.e. the public.


    Personal security for the farmers.
    Security for the stock for the farmers. Farmers couldn't decline access, and the land owners are left with a cost of cleaning up rubbish and human waste and looking after signage.

Proposed Code of Conduct:

The government is good at bringing the tourists to New Zealand, but then how do they manage them when they are here, and this needs to go to a visitors' protocols of dos and don'ts.

The government wants an access agency, which will be a bunch of bureaucrats sitting in Wellington, saying what can and cannot be done.

We will need better mapping, for better farm management for toilets, rubbish track maintenance. There is some trust fund available, but it would be controlled by the government.

92% of farmers give access automatically, and 94% of the high country farmers give automatic access, so what's the problem?

There was wide spread support against the government's proposal, which was finished in action orange. The existing goodwill is positive. 40 – 50% of New Zealand is already freely available to New Zealanders, which includes DOC land, paper roads, Queen's chain, parks and reserves etc.

One of the other issues discussed, was the need for better bio-securities at the borders, eg. Tourists bringing in Foot & Mouth, and Bird Flu. They all seem to think they can bring food into New Zealand, and it's a big problem.

So what's the conclusion? In summary, it is clear that there are not a lot of issues around the access to farmland by the public. It will be a consultative process, but farmers need to stand united, to ensure that the public do not have free and ready access to the property, as they already have access to 40 - 45% now, so why do they really need access to the balance of the land.


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