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The End Of West Coast Rimu Logging

The release Monday of 40 pages of Cabinet papers and minutes backgrounding Government's decisions to end the harvest of rimu timber and to extinguish the 1986 West Coast Accord, has failed to impress West Coast leaders. John Howard reports.

Westland District mayor and lawyer, John Drylie, said the papers did nothing to advance the argument. The paper simply followed a decision rather than explaining the decisions Cabinet was making.

" The information was inadequate in advising how Cabinet arrived at its decisions and there was no indication as to whether or not Government policy to end logging on Crown land was a good decision," he said.

"It doesn't explain or indicate the sustainable forest management argument or what justified the decision to end sustainable rimu logging," Mr Drylie said.

Mr Drylie was also critical of Government for releasing the papers just 7 days before public submissions closed on the proposed legislation to cancel the West Coast Accord which granted sustainable timber harvesting on the West Coast in perpetuity.

"Releasing the papers at this late stage did little to assist people making submissions objecting to the cancelling of the Accord," Mr Drylie said.

Following numerous complaints to Scoop's West Coast correspondent about a denial of natural justice over the late release of the Cabinet papers, Scoop has written to the Local Government and Environment Select-Committee asking if the 19 June closing date for submissions will be extended.

Scoop has been advised that the select-committee is due to consider the questions raised when it meets today.

Meanwhile, Buller mayor Pat O'Dea, said that if Government was upfront about its advice they would not have deleted half of it from the Cabinet papers and minutes.

"I think it shows that we have to operate with the utmost caution and ensure that what the Government has indicated to us is actually what we get."

The papers say that Cabinet has agreed in principle to end the harvest of all native logging on the West Coast (including rimu) by 31 December 2001.

But Minister's had written to the Mayors saying that the logging would end on 31 March 2002 - 3 months later than the Cabinet papers indicate.

There is also concern on the Coast that an "in principle" decision could mean that logging could end at any time at the whim of Minister's.

Coaster's are also suspicious of Government following the recent announcement of a new Kiwi sanctuary at Okarito adjacent to the area where the sustainable rimu logging is taking place.

Theyn say there is already a Department of Conservation reserve in the immediate area where, 12 months ago, 10 Kiwi chicks which had been bred in captivity, were rejected and attacked by Kiwi adults and had to be placed elsewhere.

At the time, Timberlands created a large buffer zone into its estate to accomodate the orphan Kiwi chicks.

The Government has also recenmtly written to the mayors saying that if they can't come to a mutual agreement about the formation of the entity to manage the $120 million with which the Government agrees, then it will be done for them.

That's gone down like a lead balloon with Coaster's now saying they are about to be "screwed-over" by the Government yet again.

Coaster's who have written and emailed the Government over the issues are also angry there has not been replies.

There is a new mood which is saying until their concerns are sorted out then Council's should not accept the Government's $120 million offer.

ends

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