Permission sought for track through swamp

The owners of a Mossburn farm planning to take over a neighbouring property are seeking approval to build an accessway through a high-value wetland.

Allan and Judith Stalker plan to buy the farm next to theirs, but So Big Swamp divides the two.

The Stalkers applied to Environment Southland for a land use consent and water permit to construct a track, 100m of which would be through the swamp, on Department of Conservation (Doc) land.

In total it would be about 205m long and 10m wide, while clearance of wetland vegetation was estimated at 800sqm on the Stalker property and 1555sqm on conservation land.

About 767sqm of that consisted of indigenous species, such as harakeke flax and copper tussock, which the Stalkers proposed to translocate.

They acknowledged the value of the wetland in their application, and proposed to restore and enhance parts of it, as well as the use of a covenant to partly protect it formally.

Senior consents officer Jade McRae last month decided public notification on the application was required.

Her reasoning was the adverse environmental effects on the wetland ecosystem, taonga species and natural character of the wetland would be more than minor.

She said the applicant’s proposed mitigations would not be adequate.

It was also noted wetland areas in Southland were declining.

‘‘So despite the fact that an area of low value wetland could be utilised for the translocation of wetland plant species in order for them to multiply and increase that area’s value, a section of So Big Swamp, which provides habitat for taonga bird species, is likely to be permanently lost.’’

Submissions can be made on the Environment Southland website. Submissions close on July 23.