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Farmers Wary Of Public Access

“Farmers are willing to allow public access to their land providing they retain the ability to say no. They must be able to restrict or deny access at certain times of the year such as calving, lambing and harvesting said John Fisher, Waikato President, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Mr Fisher was commenting on the Ministerial Reference Group on Land Access meeting on Walking Public Access to Waterways, Coastline and Countryside on Monday night at Ruakura Research Centre.

“Farmers oppose a “right to roam” across rural New Zealand. It is impractical and should not be considered. The meeting unanimously agreed with this stance.

“The Reference Group explained that it is a myth that the Queens Chain exists around most water bodies in New Zealand. But there is a myriad of legal access ways in addition to the Queens Chain such as esplanade reserves, esplanade strips and paper roads.

“The meeting strongly endorsed the need for education to the public about their responsibilities to the landowner. The public need to know what is appropriate behaviour when accessing land.

“With the changes in society leading to denser urban centres and a greater diversity of cultures, there are changes to what the public wants with regards to outdoors experience. Whereas once the demand came from fishers and trampers there is now a demand from a range of recreationalists such as four wheel drive enthusiasts, mountain bikers, canoeists, and white water rafters. The report is supposed to be about walking access yet all these recreational groups are being invited to submit. Farmers are concerned that meeting heightened public expectation for access risks undermining the viability of farm business.

“Negotiated access with compensation is the way to make rural New Zealand more accessible to the public” concluded Mr Fisher.

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