The implementation of several far-reaching environmental policies may seem rushed to farmers, but they have been gestating for many years, says the head of an environmental group.
Environmental Defence Society chief executive Gary Taylor said if the final details of freshwater and indigenous biodiversity policies were news to farmers, they should raise concerns with their sector leaders about poor communication.
The basis of the freshwater reforms began in 2008 with the establishment of the Land and Water Forum, which had input from primary sector leaders.
Iterations of the policy were introduced in 2014 and 2017, before the final policy was passed.
Similarly, the indigenous biodiversity policy began when Forest and Bird and Federated Farmers went to then Environment Minister Nick Smith seeking national guidelines to avoid constant litigation, Taylor said.
He does not consider either policy process rushed.
“I do not agree it has been rushed. That is a fallacy.”
The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity followed nearly two years of debate through the Biodiversity Collaboration Group, which included farming groups.
The government is still to pass this legislation.
“We are annoyed Federated Farmers oppose this as one of the worst things since sliced bread, yet Federated Farmers and Forest and Bird were part of the initial discussion.”
He said reaction to that policy reflects the diverse view of farmers, with many accepting the need to protect biodiversity on their land.
One policy Taylor believes is being rushed is reform of the Resource Management Act.
The government wants to introduce the two bills to reform the act before the election, a move he describes as “a pressured programme”.
He believes the working relationship between non-government organisations such as EDS, and Federated Farmers has deteriorated and he fears that attitudes among farming leaders have hardened.