Mt Ida syndicate will appeal Linz decision

Land Information New Zealand (Linz) has decided to put the Mt Ida Syndicate high country property near Ranfurly in full Crown ownership for conservation, although the farming syndicate is already in the process of appealing the decision.

Linz's decision, released yesterday, enabled the syndicate to use the land for summer grazing during the next five years, as had been done by farmers in the area for more than a century.

After five years the syndicate would have to apply to graze the land from the Department of Conservation (Doc), with no legal right of a lease renewal.

Linz conducted a review of the 8400ha property on the Mt Ida Range near Ranfurly, after Doc suggested the land be returned to full Crown ownership and be made a part of the Otaike Conservation Park, in 2006 when the preliminary proposal to do so was released.

Previously the property had been leased to the syndicate farmers under a pastoral occupation licence, which expired and came up for review in 2004 as a compulsory condition of the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 (CPLA).

While its licence was under review, the syndicate grazed the land on a series of year-to-year occupation licences, the most recent of which expired on June 30 this year.

Mt Ida Syndicate chairman and Ranfurly farmer Laurie Inder said the syndicate met yesterday afternoon following the Linz decision, and decided to appeal it, to retain 110 years of continuous farming practices on the land.

‘‘The [land] is used to graze our sheep when the weather is hot, like it is now. The same three families have worked together for 110 years, which is pretty major,'' he said.

Mr Inder had previously questioned the viability of farming in the Maniototo without grazing rights to the Mt Ida property.

‘‘The guts of it [if the decision goes ahead] is there will be some properties on the market,'' he said last night, when contacted by the Otago Daily Times.

Mr Inder queried Linz's decision, after the overwhelming amount of public submissions made on the proposal to make the property full Crown conservation land went against the idea, and instead supported the continuation of grazing.

He called the public submission process a ‘‘farce'' after Linz received 232 submissions, only 11 of which supported Doc's proposal.

‘‘The submissions were 20 to 1 in our [syndicate] favour and they took no notice of them,'' Mr Inder said.

Linz senior communications adviser Dave Chowdhury said the CPLA was ‘‘quite specific'' in terms of what could come under consideration from submissions received on preliminary proposals.

‘‘Of the 232 submissions received, it boiled down to 50 points which could be considered during the decisionmaking process. The CPLA is also specific about the outcomes for land. There's not a lot of discretion, really,'' he said.

A re-hearing of the decision would be made by the Commissioner of Crown Lands once appeals on it had been received within the next 21 days and a hearing date had been set.

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