Council abandons ANS plans
The Great North Council is abandoning the controversial policy of mapping important natural areas (SNA).
ACT primary industries spokesperson and Ruawai farmer Mark Cameron praised the mover.
He says private property rights are threatened because of the government’s directive to boards to identify and manage ANS.
A protest meeting in Northland in June saw more than 500 people calling on the council to abandon the ANS policy.
ANSs were introduced under the Resource Management Act in 1991, when councils were tasked with identifying and protecting areas containing important habitats of native biodiversity. About 60% of boards have identified ANS, but the government admits that the work was not done consistently, due to a lack of clarity.
This has led to strong opposition from farmers and the iwi – some councils have given up or abandoned the process.
The Far North District Council recently voted to continue developing the content of the draft district plan, but to remove SCN maps developed by environmentalists from the document.
The council’s strategic and policy committee chair, Councilor Rachel Smith, said the decision endorsed a pledge made by Mayor John Carter in June to âsuspendâ ANS mapping.
“This follows protests from tangata whenua, farmers and other landowners who said the proposal to identify the land as SNA infringed their sovereignty and property rights.
“This opposition resulted in a big hikoi at the Kaikohe Council headquarters where tangata whenua filed a petition against the process,” she said.
âOur decision provides a clear path forward for our draft district plan, while recognizing that more guidance is needed from central government on how to support landowners to protect important species and habitats. “
Cameron thinks the board did the right thing because the depth of feelings is clear.
âPeople are angry and worried about this policy,â he says. “ANS undermines the conservation efforts of those who care most about the environment.”
Cameron says farmers have the greatest incentive to care about the environment because they make a living from it.
âIf you take away property rights, there is no incentive to be an conservationist. Who would be an conservationist on their own land if the reward is the confiscation of your land? property rights are environmental disasters, âhe adds.
“Actively punishing people for taking care of their wetlands is one of the worst policies this government has put in place.”
Cameron says there is a better way.
“Landowners, councils and conservationists are already working together to protect native biodiversity. Instead of land grabbing, the government should support these pre-existing efforts.”