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Nats should protect outdoors from foreign investor

Nats should protect great outdoors from foreign investors

If National is serious about ensuring Kiwi families have somewhere to pitch a tent on holiday, they should support efforts to oppose the foreign buy-up of New Zealand’s great outdoors, the Green Party says.

National has called this afternoon for the Conservation Department to set up 25 more camping sites.

“It is richly ironic that National’s now calling on DOC to be made responsible for replacing the loss of camping grounds, when it was National’s free-for-all foreign investment policies that caused so many private camping sites to be shut down in the first place,.” Green Co-Leader and Regional Development Spokesperson Rod Donald said.

“The Government should be stepping in to stop land sales to foreign investors, which would reduce pressure on coastal and river camping sites. Now that National claims to want to help Kiwis have somewhere to go camping, we should expect it to join the Greens in urging the Government to tighten foreign ownership laws of our great outdoors.”

The Greens are also calling on local councils to protect existing private camping sites and help to create new ones.

“The best solution to stop the demise of the Kiwi camping site is for local authorities to use the Resource Management Act to zone existing camping grounds for public recreation camping, thus prohibiting their subdivision and keeping them safe. Councils that don’t already own camping grounds could take a lead from Nelson City and Tasman District Councils by directly owning camping grounds as part of their economic development strategies.”

Green Co-Leader and Conservation Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said DOC shouldn’t be pressured to divert its attention from its primary function of protecting and enhancing our natural heritage.

“DOC’s already doing its bit for recreation by providing 250 camping grounds around New Zealand. Any push for greater concentration on camping ground provision may detract from DOC’s primary focus, which is the preservation of New Zealand’s natural heritage.

“DOC’s existing budget for protecting biodiversity is already overstretched. National’s plan will only further dilute DOC’s conservation mandate.”

Ms Fitzsimons said the camping site plan was vague about where the new camping sites would be set up.

“Where does National plan to put these camping grounds? Are they going to put roads through national parks to set them up? It’s worrying that National seems unconcerned about the effect its camping site plan will have on New Zealand’s most precious landscapes.”

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