The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society has gone to the
Environment Court to stop further cultivation of 590ha of
land above the Clutha River at south Hawea Flat.
Society field officer Jen Miller told the Otago Daily Times
yesterday the society regarded the clearance and cultivation
of the land last month as illegal.
Lawyers for the society had lodged an application for an
interim enforcement order, which compels a landowner to
comply with the Resource Management Act or a district plan.
The move follows the society's dissatisfaction with the
Queenstown Lakes District Council's handling of the matter.
Clutha Mata-Au River Parkway Group spokesman Lewis Verduyn
said he watched the agricultural contractor leave the site on
''Most of the site has been trashed,'' Mr Verduyn said.
''It's an ecological disaster. That's what it is.''
He recounted to the Otago Daily Times the names of rare
native plants that had been ploughed up.
Council general manager, planning and development, Marc
Bretherton said in an email to the ODT the council's district
plan contained a list of threatened plants, and rules which
referred to the list.
''The ecological report specific to the property in question
identifies a single species as threatened.
''This species is not included in the district plan.''
Mr Bretherton said also that, contrary to media reports, the
council had never said resource consent was not required for
the cultivation work.
It investigated the concerns of the society and visited the
site last Thursday where it ''confirmed that no breach of the
district plan had occurred''.
''Acting on the information available, there was no basis for
issuing an abatement notice or commencing enforcement
proceedings,'' he said.
''When site-specific ecological advice was subsequently
obtained, the landowner was contacted to advise that an
ecological report and possibly resource consent would be
''At this point, council became aware that the site had been
Mr Bretherton said the council had ''not issued an abatement
notice nor any other form of enforcement proceedings''.
Forest and Bird lawyer Peter Anderson has written to the
council advising it to issue the landowner with an abatement
notice to remediate the ''damage''.
He called for a ''thorough'' ecological survey, the site not
to be watered, oversown or topdressed, all grazing to cease
and rabbit control to be carried out.
The council's website shows the land is owned by Big River