ruataniwha dam appeal
Fight over controversial land swap to continue in Supreme Court http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11718486
No surprises there. Also on Stuff: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/84748285/department-of-conservation-appealing-ruataniwha-landswap-decision-to-supreme-court
Okay, a slight surprise. Our publicly sourced conservation funding is effectively going towards DOC's Supreme Court fight to be able to set a precedent that effectively nullifies much of the protection that's currently implied for Specially Protected Areas such as Conservation Parks. As far as its actual mandate is concerned, I don't understand what DOC hopes to gain from this.
Does Doc get a real gain from this land swap? I thought it was a area of ok but not great native bush along a nice river in exchange for a larger amount of worn out farm land
When swapping Stewardship Land, the law (Conservation Act) requires that there be a Net Conservation Benefit for the conservation estate which DOC operates. So DOC must consider that the land being offered in exchange has greater value than the land being given away. It probably has a report somewhere to justify this. It's open to devious abuse, though. A point made by the PCE in the Stewardship Land report was that the Banks Peninsula land received by DOC into the conservation estate in exchange for Crystal Basin (which our Nature Heritage Fund had previously obtained with the clear intent of making it more protected) already had lots of protection under its District Plan. Under the law, though, DOC's only allowed to consider net value to the conservation estate which it manages. If there's likely to be a net conservation loss overall, due to a new owner reducing or destroying the value of land that DOC gives up by (for example) building a ski-field or flooding it, it's largely irrelevant to what DOC and the Minister may consider. http://www.pce.parliament.nz/publications/investigating-the-future-of-conservation-the-case-of-stewardship-land Businesses know exactly what the Conservation Act says. Thus if you want to get your hands on some Stewardship Land currently managed by DOC, the best approach is normally to buy up a block of land that's been kept in a better state, and offer it up for a swap. The fact that it might have always been kept in a better state without DOC's management doesn't matter. The original intent of clause in the law was for minor shoring up of land boundaries, but it's not stated explicitly in the law. Minister Kate Wilkinson and DG Al Morrison set a dreadful precedent in 2011 by authorising the Crystal Basin swap for Steep Head Gully on Banks Peninsula that was nowhere near Crystal Basin, let along sharing a boundary. The Ruataniwha Dam issue has an extra dimension, because it's not Stewardship Land. It's part of Ruahine Forest Park. The guts of the court case is that DOC (under delegation from the Minister) chose to simply demote the state of the land to Stewardship Land so that it could go through the process of swapping it away. The claim is that it didn't put sufficient consideration into whether the actual values of the land merited its demotion. ie. F&B claims it was demoted because DOC wanted to swap it, and not because it didn't deserve to be Specially Protected, and consequently if it's allowed to happen like this then there's no reason to think that the protection on any other Specially Protected Land is really any better than Stewardship Land.
the conservation board for the area of crystal basin recommended against the land swap to the minister of conservation.. after the land swap went ahead, one of the board members published their recommendations against the land swap to the press, that board member was then sacked by the minister of conservation , kate wilkinson. my understanding is there are some rare native animals and or plants in the land being given up for the dam, which makes the land swap debateable... i think the govt just sees the land swap law as a convenient way of giving up conservation land for commercial exploitation and they are more in favour of that than taking much notice of the value of the land given the govt wanted to mine on high value conservation land, i dont think they care that much about conservation beyond keeping only the most highly valued and visited areas conserved...
Annnnd... they're now also attempting to get the land under the Public Works Act in parallel to the Supreme Court Case. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11718615
Editorial: Hard to argue vote was not anti-dam mandate http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11725335
That's encouraging. Democracy can work and that's why ECAN was taken over by the government by sacking the democratically elected councillors and putting commissioners in place. Canterbury people got the chance to vote for some ECAN councillors this year.
I voted only for anti-dam candidates in the HBRC elections, and it would appear that so did a large number of other ratepayers. There is hope after all!
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