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O'Connor welcomes release of Walking Access doc.

O'Connor welcomes release of Walking Access document

Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor has welcomed the release today of a consultation document on walking access.

The document has been prepared by an independent seven-member reference panel led by South Canterbury farmer John Acland. The issue refers to the public's right of walking access to areas of coastline, rivers and lakes.

Mr O'Connor said the independent panel had worked hard to prepare a comprehensive document, and had canvassed the ideas and concerns of farming, recreational, Maori and rural groups. The panel would use the document as the basis of an extensive round of public consultation due to begin next month.

The issue was complex and solutions would not be rushed, Mr O'Connor said.

"This is a complicated issue that evokes strong emotions in many New Zealanders so it is important it is done right. The panel is taking a great deal of care to build as large a consensus as possible. There are no pre-determined solutions and all submissions will be considered."

Over the next six months at least, the panel was to hold a series of public meetings, meet with stakeholder groups and invite submissions from the public.

Mr O'Connor said he was looking forward to receiving a report from the panel. No deadline has been set for a final decision.


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