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DOC concessions process to get revamp

DOC concessions process to get revamp

Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson today announced a revamp to improve the processing of permits for commercial activities on public conservation land.

Currently, more than 4,500 permits (known as concessions) exist for activities ranging from boating to filming, guiding, bungy jumping, bee keeping, stock grazing and skiing. The Department of Conservation (DOC) receives more than 1,100 applications each year from private operators and individuals.

Ms Wilkinson says DOC was asked to review how it handles concession applications in response to concerns that the consistency and timeliness of permit processing varied between conservancies around the country.

“Concessions provide opportunities for thousands of local businesses, many of whom support the $20 billion-a-year tourism industry. It’s important that there is a consistent approach to handling these permits and that applicants and the Department know exactly what is expected of each other.

“The criteria that concessions are assessed by will not change. Applications will continue to be carefully vetted to ensure the activities respect conservation values and public input is sought when there could be significant impacts.”

The new procedures will clarify the permit process and its requirements and establish clear timeframes for the Department and applicants.

Under the new procedures:

• Assessment of conservation impacts will be more consistent across the Department’s 12 conservancies.
• A lead conservancy will have overall responsibility when more than one conservancy is involved.
• Timeframes will be tighter – from 1 July 2010, the Department will set mandatory timeframes for itself. Routine non-notified applications must be processed within a maximum of 45 days.
• When the Department exceeds its timelines, application fees will be discounted.

“I expect the recommended changes will provide more certainty to the application process and make it more efficient.”

A copy of the concessions review document can be found at http://www.doc.govt.nz/concessionsreview.

ENDS

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