Tenure deal exemption loss angers

Two high country farmers who have gone through the tenure review process vented their ire this week about planned changes to the Central Otago district plan they say make a mockery of that agreement with the Crown.

''That agreement will count for nothing,'' Nick Mackenzie, of Kyeburn Station, told the Central Otago District Council's hearings panel.

Ralph Hore, of Becks, said the proposed changes would take away his rights as a landowner.

''For those of you, like Grahame Sydney, who say this landscape is a canvas, well, the paints are our blood and our sweat and our tears,'' Mr Hore told the panel.

The panel was hearing submissions on its plan review discussion document.

The farmers had objected to the proposed removal of an exemption applying to freeholded tenure review properties.

Under the current plan, those property owners have the right to clear native vegetation on their land even if it has been classified as an outstanding natural landscape, on the basis that vegetation and landscape values were fully assessed during tenure review.

The proposed change follows an Environment Court ruling in November 2012.

The court found an exemption in the Waitaki district plan that allowed native plants to be cleared from properties that had been through tenure review was not in line with the plan's objectives or with the Resource Management Act.

Mr Hore said more than 50% of his Blackstone Hills Ltd property was transferred to the Crown for conservation purposes under tenure review and it formed part of the Oteake Conservation park.

For the rest of the property to remain viable, it was acknowledged the land would need to be developed.

Under the changed rules, he would need planning consent to clear native vegetation.

Council planning consultant David Whitney said the court ruling had ''effectively struck down'' an attempt to allow an exemption for properties that had been through tenure review.

Mr Hore said the council should ''show some mettle'' and continue with the exemption.

Hearings panellist Cr Martin McPherson had some sympathy for the farmers.

''You're saying that if there's one manuka bush being removed on the land, to plough a paddock you'll be required to get planning consent, going through another series of hoops,'' he said.

Mr Mackenzie endorsed Mr Hore's comments.

''I'm upset that what we signed with the Crown appears to have been upended by the Environment Court,'' he said.


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