Mackenzie divisions as wide as ever

Mackenzie divisions as wide as ever

Article by David Williams on newsroom. The businessman behind a huge dairy operation being created in the Mackenzie Basin is firing barbs at an Environment Court judge and a green group. David Williams reports.

Dunedin accountant Murray Valentine has been methodical and meticulous in planning for a $100-million-plus dairy conversion in the Mackenzie Basin.

Valentine, the owner of Simons Pass Station – 9700 hectares of land, some of it Crown-owned, bounded by the Pukaki and Tekapo Rivers and Lake Pukaki – says he’s secured or sought nearly 80 consents and pre-approvals from various public bodies for an intensive, irrigated dairy farm operation.

Work has started. By the time the farm’s fully developed, there’ll be about 5500 cows, and 10,000 other stock animals, on 4500ha of irrigated land. Almost 4000 hectares is earmarked for conservation, some through the controversial tenure review process.

But after 15 years of preparation, and millions of dollars spent on various consent applications, expert witness evidence, legal fees and court appeals, Valentine’s frustration is bubbling to the surface.

Following a recent Environment Court decision about when tighter development rules in the Mackenzie district take effect, Valentine tells Newsroom that Judge Jon Jackson is conflicted. He’s conflicted, Valentine says, as a former president of lobby group Forest & Bird, and, after deciding the Mackenzie development rules, going on to rule on when they took effect.

On the latter situation, Valentine says: “They should have got another judge to hear that. That’s not hard – we’ve got plenty of bloody Environment Court judges sitting around doing nothing. That was just blatantly wrong.”

Read the full article here

Last updated at 9:14AM on January 23, 2018