The Queenstown Lakes District Council is seeking a legal
opinion over the cultivation of land at south Hawea Flat,
The council initially told landowner Dugald Innes consent was
not required and cultivation began.
Then, after taking ''site-specific ecological advice'' on
Monday, the council told Mr Innes an ecological report ''and
possibly resource consent'' would be required.
In response to an Otago Daily Times request for
clarification of the council's position yesterday, general
manager, planning and development, Marc Bretherton said the
council was seeking a ''more detailed legal opinion''.
''Once we have received it, we will be better placed to
determine what, if any, further action is required.''
The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand
has strongly criticised the council for allowing cultivation
without resource consent, as it says the land is ecologically
It has warned it could take Environment Court action against
the council for failing in its district plan obligations.
A visit to the site by the ODT yesterday found
cultivation work being carried out. However, a council
spokeswoman said later this was on land next to the area the
society was concerned about.
Forest and Bird acting Otago-Southland field officer Jen
Miller said even this work required the council to be sure
resource consent was not required.
''I think what we are witnessing here is an extraordinary
litany of council ineptitude.
''On Thursday of last week, they had all the information they
needed to at least raise some red flags around the legality
of the work that was being carried out.''
Ms Miller said the society had made several attempts to
contact the council yesterday but had received no response.
Mr Innes has not responded to ODT messages.