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Does Anyone Understand The Foreshore Policy?

April 7, 2004
PR 86/04

Does Anyone Understand The Foreshore Policy?

The government's foreshore and seabed policy creates deep uncertainty for all landowners, said Tom Lambie, President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Landowners were anticipating that this package would clearly distinguish between public rights associated with Crown ownership, and private property rights. But instead landowners are left more confused and the package most definitely hasn't met one of its four founding principles -- certainty," Mr Lambie said.

The Prime Minister's statement issued today says the legislation will guarantee the public access "to" the foreshore and seabed.

"If this is true, today's announcement has huge implications for owners of coastal land, especially where there is no public access to the foreshore. It suggests that anyone can walk across private land to reach the foreshore -- a vast difference from current practice which gives landowners the final say over access."

However, another part of today's government announcement says the bill will provide a general right of public access "along and over" the foreshore and seabed.

"Which is true? Is it 'to' or 'along and over'? One assumes the Prime Minister is correct and it is 'to', which suggests that property rights of landowners are under attack.

A government official said that "along and over" is closer to the actual legislation. The prime minister's statement has therefore created uncertainty.

"The over-riding problem is that nowhere in this package does it clearly spell out the exact implications for landowners. That cavalier approach ignores the government's obligations to landowners," said Mr Lambie.

"Another disturbing aspect of the package is that it continues to give the public general expectations that they can wander across private land to any beach. To counter this, the government needs to confirm that by its own definition the foreshore is only that part of the beach which goes under water at high tide."


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