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What do SNAs mean?

In July this year new legislation, the NPS Indigenous Biodiversity is due to be released. The key part to this legislation is Significant Natural Areas or SNAs. This will affect every farmer.

Here are some of the problems with having SNAs designated on your land:

First, your private property information becomes public. This means anyone with extra time or money can use the survey information, including against you in a court process. Second, you are not compensated for the loss of land captured as SNA. Third, the rules can change at any time, without your knowledge or agreement. Last but not least, property values go down with buyers hesitant in purchasing properties with large areas of SNA.

The drive behind SNA surveys (& other surveys like wetlands) is to capture information about what natural values exist on private land. I remember back in the 1990s a greenie conference where they highlighted that one of the biggest problems was a lack of knowledge of what existed on private land. (You can't regulate or take if you don't know what exists).

Prior to SNAs (pre 1990) there were surveys being done by DOC known as PNA (Protected Natural Area) and RAP (Recommended Areas for Protection). This was costing DOC a lot of money and they ran into problems with landowners refusing access.

The Government needed to find another way to capture this information. So the Government (or probably the policy advisors) at the time came up with the idea of gathering the information under the guise of SNA assessments. Initially this was voluntary for Councils, but under the proposed law being notified in July it will be mandatory for all councils to survey all private land. The Government have found a way to capture all the private land information into the public domain by forcing councils to do their dirty work at considerable cost to ratepayers. It doesn't cost the Government a cent and fighting over surveys is between councils and landowners. Clever.

Rural Advocacy Network has joined with Groundswell NZ and we have launched a nationwide campaign calling for all landowners to not allow any surveys by public agencies. If the council in your area is undertaking surveys please let us know and ask the council to halt the surveys.

Jamie McFadden

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