“The Government has fobbed off farmers by not relaxing the RMA in cyclone-affected areas, they must act now so farmers and growers can recover from Cyclone Gabrielle minus the red tape and bureaucracy,” says ACT’s Environment spokesperson Simon Court.

“Three weeks since ACT sent Environment Minister David Parker a letter asking him to relax the RMA, and two weeks since Federated Farmers did the same thing. He has finally responded to Feds. His response is essentially ‘yeah you’ve got a fair point, however we’re not doing anything about it.’

“Imagine having tonnes of sediment wash up onto your property and blocking all your entries and exits. But you’re not allowed to do anything about it unless you go through an entire consenting process. Store lambs can’t get to slaughter because of damaged bridges and roads, people are cut off from getting feed for their animals and veterinarian supplies, farmers I have spoken to are unsure what carrying capacity temporary bridges will have and whether they will be able to handle heavy loads.

“The Government has urgent cyclone recovery legislation coming to Parliament next week, this needs to be included in it.

“Farmers across the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay have a massive cleanup on their hands. The most significant way the Government can help them would be to streamline resource consent processes, as they did after the Christchurch earthquakes, so farmers and growers can take practical action to deal with the aftermath without worrying about time-consuming and restrictive consent processes.

“The impact of sedimentation, slash and debris is a huge problem for farmers and growers to contend with. There needs to be flexibility for dealing with the mess. Farmers are reporting that they’re unable to leave their properties to get supplies because they can’t dispose of the waste that has washed up on their properties and blocked their roads without first gaining resource consent.

“There are so many issues that are front of mind for people affected in rural areas. ACT says they have enough on their plate and should be able to deal with cyclone impacts with as little red tape and bureaucratic interference as possible.

“This is part of ACT’s 15 ideas for recovering from Cyclone Gabrielle document, of which one of the key principles is reducing bureaucracy and removing red tape.

“ACT will continue to advocate for the Government to fully commit to removing all the barriers that currently risk hampering the recovery.”

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