You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
A Southern mayor is worried the rural community is ‘‘losing focus’’ due to premature concerns about significant natural areas, or SNAs.
A key component of the new policy will be the identification by councils of SNAs in their districts, which will be legislated for under the terms of the eventual policy statement.
This has led to concerns from some in the rural community that the policy could prevent landowners from carrying out certain activities on their properties where an SNA has been identified.
The statement is under ministerial review, and is scheduled to be released this month.
Mr Cadogan said anxiety about SNAs, and the policy more generally, were premature, and often exaggerated.
‘‘At present the NPS is in draft form only, and we’ve had no signal from the Government that it’s going to appear as scheduled before the month ends.
‘‘When it does eventually emerge, councils have five years to identify SNAs, and a further year to enact the legislation.
‘‘I’ve heard talk of SNAs arising as a result of a tui flying over your paddock, or fines because a cow rubs against a fenced-off SNA. This is misinformation at best, and dangerous mischief at worst, designed to exploit an underlying angst in the rural community by those who may wish to further harmful agendas.’’
He said focusing on the ‘‘what-ifs’’ of a yet-to-be-determined policy were removing critical focus from the ‘‘clear and present danger’’ of the Government’s Three Waters reforms, released for council consideration last month.
‘‘Before Christmas, councils have the most significant decision they will ever make on behalf of ratepayers in front of them, in the shape of Three Waters reforms involving billions of dollars of assets and affecting both rural and urban communities for decades to come.
‘‘Clutha has committed no resources to SNAs at present, and is unlikely to do so for many months yet,’’ Mr Cadogan said.
‘‘I’d appeal to people to ignore the inflammatory rumour, focus on the facts, and focus on the policies that are here and now, and require all our attention to get right.’’