Farm owner ordered to restore cultivated land

Crosshill Farm, on the northern side of the Clutha River, near the outlet from Lake Wanaka. Photo...
Crosshill Farm, on the northern side of the Clutha River, near the outlet from Lake Wanaka. Photo: Mark Price
Rich lister and New Zealand Business Hall of Fame member Peter Masfen CNZM has been ordered to restore land on his Wanaka property disturbed by cultivation.

Mr Masfen and son Rolf, as shareholders of Sunnyheights Ltd, own the 341ha Crosshill Farm on the northern side of the Clutha River, near the river’s outlet from Lake Wanaka.

In a media release yesterday on Thursday, the Queenstown Lakes District Council announced the owners of Crosshill Farm had been investigated over the cultivation of land designated a "significant natural area" (SNA).

As a result, the Environment Court issued an enforcement order that included $92,000 of remediation works.

Council regulatory manager Lee Webster said the council investigated the removal of a protected short tussock grassland and cushion field landscape after receiving a complaint from a member of the public.

The affected area was 10.28ha.

"We have since worked very closely with the landowner, who has co-operated fully with the investigation and taken a proactive approach to resolving the matter," Mr Webster said.

The cultivation was due to "a breakdown in communication" between the landowner’s lessee and contractors and charges would not be laid, he said.The media release included comment attributed to an unnamed spokesman for Sunnyheights Ltd saying the cultivation was "an unfortunate and regrettable mistake".

"Since finding out that the contractors had cultivated the SNA, without their knowledge, they have done everything in their power to remedy the situation, including engaging professionals to prepare in-depth ecology reports and remediation plans," the spokesman said.

"They have also agreed to pay the council’s costs as another gesture of goodwill."

The remediation will involve fencing approximately 3.5ha of the land within the SNA to protect the remaining cushion plants and tussock landscape, as well as further plantings of native shrubs. Mr Webster said it was disappointing the council needed to investigate such matters, but it was "encouraging" to see the landowner taking responsibility.

Mr Masfen is best known for his former shareholding in Montana Wines.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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