DCC supports preservation of Foulden Maar

Foulden Maar. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Foulden Maar. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Dunedin city councillors will support the preservation of Foulden Maar, and are looking at steps to stop mining there.

Whether to support the retention of the site - a former crater lake home to thousands of 23-million-year-old fossils - was mooted at a council meeting yesterday.

Cr Aaron Hawkins put forward a motion suggesting councillors recognise the significance of the fossil record at Foulden Maar, and support its preservation and protection as a scientific resource.

He also asked the council to commission an options paper ''with urgency'' providing information on how they could give effect to their decision to support it.

Crs Lee Vandervis and Mike Lord did not support the motion, and Cr David Benson-Pope abstained.

However, all other councillors, as well as Mayor Dave Cull, voted in support.

The meeting continued from Tuesday, when paleontologist Associate Prof Daphne Lee spoke of the importance of the site, near Middlemarch.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said yesterday staff were already investigating whether the second-generation district plan could be altered, to make Foulden Maar an outstanding natural feature.

The letter sent by Mr Cull to the Overseas Investment Office in support of the mine had been set aside, and the office now regarded the council as neutral, Dr Bidrose said.

During the meeting, Cr Hawkins made comparisons between the mining proposal and the proposal for an aluminium smelter at Aramoana in the 1970s, halted by the Save Aramoana Campaign.

Cr Vandervis said he accepted if the site was mined, a large proportion of fossils - which were ''of enormous interest'' - would be lost.

However, he considered the climate change record of the time was less significant, and said people could already research the climate at different periods in time on the internet.

He wanted the council to work with the owners to allow more ''careful economic development''.

Mr Cull said private ownership was never absolute and Associate Prof Lee had stated scientific research and commercial development of the site were incompatible.



Interesting discussion here about the ownership of land (property), The right to own property was one of the cornerstones of the civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. This principle was followed by all Western liberal democracies and a critical part of freedom - WHERE you could be free - so that ‘a man’s home was his castle’, a right later to extended to property-owning women. Now this right has never been overturned or abolished or even philosophically debated against - it has merely been gradually ERODED, more and more, on the grounds of being in the public interest. So is our society moving towards the TOTAL ABOLITION of individual property rights? And do we really want that? Wouldn’t the state then own ALL the property, and, as a consequence, individuals lose their FREEDOM?

If the land was previously Crown-owned, any sales post-1948 (Land Act) exclude mineral/mining rights - that stays with the Crown. Any activity today also needs to follow the RMA. A recent Government commentary on this also stated that it's a grey area regards protection of such sites. It is currently up to the relevant Council body to provide protection as there may not be a direct government mechanism.