What’s happening in the Mackenzie Country would make you weep
A recent tour by EDS personnel of the Mackenzie Country was extremely upsetting. Since the completion of the Shared Vision process that charted an agreed way forward amongst stakeholders, dairy conversions and tussock grassland destruction have proceeded at pace. Planning loopholes have been exploited and the council’s response has been slow and ineffectual. The values that ignited the nation’s concerns when cubicle farming was proposed and elicited thousands of submissions in opposition to landscape loss are being relentlessly eroded.
The recent establishment of the Mackenzie Country Trust, with some funding for land management agreements to incentivize conservation, is very welcome. Dr Marie Brown has been appointed a trustee, continuing EDS’s involvement in this truly iconic place. The Trust will need to rattle its dags though: urgent intervention is required if the drylands park concept is to be realized.
Meantime EDS is re-entering the litigation fray. We are seeking to join Plan Change 13 appeals, currently before the Environment Court. The plan change seeks to protect outstanding landscapes in the basin. We are very concerned at the slowness of the court process and the fact that loopholes are enabling a gold rush of conversions. We will be trying to speed up the section 293 processes currently underway.
Tenure review is also highly problematical. It is clear to us that LINZ is administering the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 in a questionable if not unlawful manner. The outcomes on the ground call into question the entire process of tenure review which seems biased towards private interests, in spite of the plain wording of the Act.
EDS is seeking funding support for its Mackenzie work. To contribute, go here.
Published March 2016