Andrew Dickens: City and rural need to unite, not divide over issues

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Jul 2021, 1:44PM
"It would be nice to see that as New Zealanders, whether in the country or the city there is more that unites us than divides us." (Photo / File)
"It would be nice to see that as New Zealanders, whether in the country or the city there is more that unites us than divides us." (Photo / File)

Andrew Dickens: City and rural need to unite, not divide over issues

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Jul 2021, 1:44PM

In the aftermath of the farmer protests on Friday, some tempers have been running high as farmers allege city residents don’t understand them.  But in fact, there are many issues that should unite farming and city folk. 

As I drove in this morning, I heard a farmer on ZB claiming that city folk have no idea of the environmental regulation and the cost of compliance that the farming community have to bear. 

I thought that was a bit unfair. Currently Auckland Council is spending $1 billion dollars on the interceptor project which is to prevent wastewater from entering the watercourses that crisis across the city. That’s part of the costs of keeping rates high. 

Then there’s the story of the service station that’s being developed in my suburb.  This is a saga that has rumbled on for years.  The service station operator has now spent more than $500,000 on getting resource consents and will spend just about as much on environmental safeguards. 

City businesses will complain about compliance costs as much as any farmer. 

Meanwhile, I’m struck by the similarity between the issues of S.N.As and heritage protection. 

S.N.As are Significant Natural Areas on farming land that the authorities now want to register and protect. 

Farmers see this as a land grab.  It’s their land and they’ll do what they want with it. If farmers bought a block with a wetland in it they may have already factored in the draining of that land as part of the business plan. To have a council come along and say hands off would go down like cold sick. 

Of course, some farmers do it voluntarily with over 4700 covenants on Significant Natural Area already in place. And that’s the choice thing rather than the compulsion. 

In cities, there’s a similar but opposite argument.

New zoning is threatening heritage properties that could be redeveloped into higher density housing.

Battlelines are being formed particularly in older city suburbs to protect owners from councils imposing zoning laws on their land and neighbourhoods.  It’s a personal property right issue just like S.N.As are for farmers. 

It would be nice to see that as New Zealanders, whether in the country or the city there is more that unites us than divides us.