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Conservation concessions to be sped up

Mon, 20 Sep 2004

Conservation concessions to be sped up for businesses

DOC aims to halve processing times for concessions for low impact business activities

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The Department of Conservation is aiming to halve the processing times for concessions to operate low impact business activities on public conservation land, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"Over the past 18 months, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has been reviewing how it plans for the allocation of concessions, how it processes applications for concessions, and how it monitors them," Mr Carter said.

"By working with the tourism industry and recreational groups, we have developed a new way of speeding up the processing of concessions, and improving the monitoring of them, without undermining the integrity of the public's conservation areas," Mr Carter said.

"At present, it takes roughly six to nine months to process a non-notified concession, which make up the majority of applications. Under a new system to be phased in over the next three years, we hope to reduce that timeframe to three to four months for low impact concessions.

"For example, a proposal for a guided walking operation on clearly defined, well-built tracks should be processed up to 50 per cent faster."

Mr Carter said 33 recommendations grew out of the review, most of which focussed on improving the public planning for conservation areas to give people wanting concessions more information about which activities were likely to be permitted in a particular area, and which were not. Increased monitoring of the effects of concessions was also among the recommendations.

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"This review has come at an appropriate time because demand for concessions to operate on public conservation lands is increasing. Last year there were 3781 concessions in place around the country, 350 more than in 2000," Mr Carter said.

"There is a growing awareness of the economic potential of our spectacular protected landscapes, particularly as their popularity increases. DOC estimates there were a staggering 33 million individual visits to conservation areas around the country in 2003, up from 28 million visits in 2002," said Mr Carter.

ENDS

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