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Govt protection for elite soils fifty years too late

20 September 2022

by Chris Leitch, Leader

At last, fifty years too late, a government has recommended protection of elite vegetable growing land from urban sprawl.
In 1973, Social Credit, way ahead of its time with policy proposals as usual, published You and Your Environment, a twenty eight page green paper which, amongst a raft of environmental policy proposals, recommended exactly that.
"A system of environmental zoning for the nation is strongly recommended..... so that each part is put to it's best use, whatever it be, for fruit growing, cropping, grazing or silviculture".
"Land should be rated according to its zoned use value and not by the present artificial standards".
"The concept of satellite suburbs, built on poorer class land, linked to major centres by rapid transit systems should be fostered".
Sadly the national policy statement is in direct conflict with the government's dictate to councils - agreed in the Housing Supply Bill compact with National in 2021 - to free up more land for housing, claiming councils' policies of trying to limit urban sprawl were a major contributor to high building costs.
The then National Party leader, Judith Collins said that in April, she "presented a draft Bill that would have required local authorities to zone more space for new housing, drastically cutting consent requirements for those wishing to build new dwellings whether through intensification or greenfields development".
On top of which the government has thrown the responsibility of identifying those elite soils, and the costs of doing so, onto councils without any accompanying financial support.
Councils are left with two opposing, competing priorities - free up land, as Auckland Council has done with massive housing development on prime vegetable growing land in Pukekohe, or protect that land and find somewhere else for houses.
Government must financially support councils to identify elite soils and make it clear that protection of them is the top priority.
In the light of the new announcement, National's housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis now needs front up with what its policy is on protection of elite soils.
The government should adopt many more of Social Credit's proposals in You and Your Environment from 1973, and catch up with us.

You and your environment is available for download here

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