Access Is A Privilege, Not A Right Saturday, Oct 25, 2003
Government policy must not be driven by a small group who demand access over private land as an automatic right says Tom Williams, Bay of Plenty President, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).
Mr Williams was commenting on the Ministerial Reference Group on Land Access meeting on Walking Public Access in the New Zealand Outdoors on Wednesday night in Tauranga.
“Everyone wants to be able to access parks, fishing and wildlife areas that are owned by the public but it is a question of balance.
“The Ministerial Reference Group must listen carefully to the many stories of the problems that farmers and other landowners talked about at the public meeting. Farmers spoke of drunken teens, thieves, and days and nights of terror as farm households have had to cope with irresponsible visitors off their heads on marijuana and other drugs.
“The current convention is to insist that visitors ask permission first. This works in the interest of both parties. Farmers can direct visitors to safe places compatible with their business or if necessary say no. Visitors' safety is protected.
“What is wrong with the public asking landowners for permission to enter their land?
“Sure there is a risk on rare occasions where the answer will be no but tell me one urban based business who would not say no to a person wandering through their delivery yard or storage areas.
“The meeting opposed the ‘right to roam'. We will strongly oppose any moves deeming access across private land, removing the ability to say no or to apply other management tools such as charging or selling concessions.
“There is no shortage of public areas in the Bay of Plenty . Over 30% of the Western Bay of Plenty District, 35% of Whakatane District and 60% of Opotiki District is Department of Conservation (DoC) land and available for the general public to use and enjoy. If there are some areas that need improved access then councils and DoC can provide it.
“If recreationalists want better access over private land I suggest they invest heavily into improving the behaviour of the public and start developing strong working relationships with landowners not trying to bludgeon their way by lobbying for legislation.