17 June 2008
Environmental Defence Society urges caution over Sandspit land-swap proposal
The Environmental Defence Society has urged the government to take care “not to get ripped off” over a proposed land swap deal with Landco over the Ngunguru Spit in Northland.
The private company Landco has proposed a 350 lot subdivision on the sandspit, which is located just south of Tutukaka on the Northland coast.
The Ngunguru sandspit is low-lying, subject to periodic inundation by storm surges, has nationally important ecological values and is an outstanding coastal landscape.
“EDS is generally supportive of the idea of a land swap with Crown land elsewhere. It would be good to get the spit into public ownership,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.
We are concerned however to see the Department of Conservation’s Northland Conservator, Chris Jenkins, describing the land is “very valuable,”
“That is not correct. The land is not very valuable. Landco might argue that it is, based on what it would be worth if it was developed. But recent court decisions have said valuation is based on its present zoning not some speculative future development.”
“Under its present zoning it has both limited development potential as well as access problems that have yet to be overcome.”
“In any case the Landco development is
never going to get through the resource
Management hurdles. It is too intense, in the wrong place and quite clearly contrary to both the RMA and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.”
“Based on our 30 plus years of litigation on coastal subdivision proposals, we can quite confidently say a 350 lot subdivision there will never get approved.”
“Landco must know that if it has taken competent expert advice. So in our opinion the proposal looks more like a blatant attempt to ratchet up the value than anything else.”
“The best way forward from here would be for DOC to compulsorily acquire the land under the Public Works Act for a reserve. That Act has processes for determining the value to be paid to the owner that would ensure an equitable outcome. We urge the Minister to have a careful look at compulsory purchase which would be supported by most New Zealanders.”
“A land swap might still work but the Crown needs to take great care that it’s not drawn into paying a premium.”
“We will be watching the process going forward very carefully,” Mr Taylor concluded.