Environmental Defence Society’s report welcomed
2 March 2017
QEII National Trust Chief Executive, Mike Jebson, has welcomed Environmental Defence Society’s report The Last Line of Defense that has recognised the Trust’s covenant management scheme as an exemplar.
Launched this week, the report undertook a comprehensive review of key environmental agencies in New Zealand, examining compliance monitoring and enforcement. It identifies issues that enforcement raises and promising areas of innovation, and proposes potential solutions to improve compliance management.
Mr Jebson says the report provides encouraging appraisal of the National Trust for running the ‘most comprehensive and transparent covenant management scheme in the country’, and for having a monitoring programme that sets it up well to undertake formal enforcement if required.
The report includes three recommendations to strengthen the National Trust’s ability to manage compliance into the future.
‘These are essentially recommending that we do more of the same by continuing to invest in technology, staff training, and our transparent national reporting processes,’ he says.
Mr Jebson says while the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Act 1977 does have mechanisms to address compliance issues, it was not established as an enforcement agency.
He says its compliance record is thanks in large part to landowner attitude, the voluntary decision of landowners to covenant land with the Trust, and the Trust’s long-standing and successful partnership approach with landowners.
‘Given that the vast majority of covenantors are extremely proud of their covenants and want to look after them, serious intentional breaches of the covenant agreement are rare. If they do happen we have systems in place to identify them and take appropriate action,’ he says.
Mr Jebson says generally this is through dialogue, but when this approach has failed the Trust has gone to court to defend covenant agreements.
‘High Court rulings in our favour have confirmed that our legislation has strong mechanisms in place to enforce compliance, and we will confidently apply them if we have to,’ Mr Jebson says.
Compliance monitoring is a critical component of the National Trust’s function as perpetual trustee of its covenant agreements with landowners. Mr Jebson says the National Trust will continue to invest in the areas identified in the report so covenantors and the public can be confident that its trustee role is being undertaken efficiently and effectively.
Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust is an independent statutory organisation and registered charity that partners with private landowners to help them permanently protect special natural and cultural heritage sites on their land with covenants.
It is the perpetual trustee for a network of over 4,200 registered covenants that are protecting forever around 165,000ha of New Zealand’s natural heritage.
Covenants are monitored on a regular basis (usually once every 2 years) as part of the National Trust’s perpetual trustee function.