Land swap proposal a 'no-brainer'

A land swap involving a small piece of Bob's Cove conservation area, near Queenstown, in exchange for land owned by neighbour Sue Farry, of Punatapu Holdings Ltd, looks set to proceed. The Otago Conservation Board gave its support to the proposal yesterday.

The Department of Conservation (Doc) is considering a request by Mrs Farry to trade .0755ha of land owned by Punatapu Holdings Ltd for .0460ha of conservation land.

In a report considered at yesterday's board meeting, Doc statutory land management adviser at the Dunedin Service Centre, Dinah Wakelin, said the proposal aimed to resolve a ''longstanding encroachment issue''.

The conservation area was ''inadvertently fenced in'' when the Farrys fenced their adjoining land for deer and goat farming, she said.

The grazed land had two water tanks, an old musterer's hut and another hut on it. The musterers' hut had been restored by the Farrys for accommodation.

They assumed it was on their land and when wind blew the water tanks off the hillside, they were relocated to a more sheltered spot next to the huts.

''In this case, the encroachment appears to be the result of a genuine error and is longstanding,'' Ms Wakelin said.

''The land swap will result in the department acquiring land which has regenerating bush in exchange for land which is grazed and occupied by private buildings. ''

Doc was receiving more land than it was being asked to surrender and the land to be freeholded had no value in terms of conservation and recreation.

The public was not losing access to the area, as it had been fenced off from public access for decades.

In the long term, the public would gain as Doc would acquire land which had regenerating native bush in exchange for land which was grazed and occupied by private buildings.

The areas involved were small and valuations had shown them to be of equal value, she said.

The applicants would meet all costs associated with the process. Board member David Barnes said supporting the proposal was a ''no-brainer'' and it would be good to see the matter resolved.

The Punatapu estate is advertised as providing luxury accommodation.