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Freeholding Of Alpine Land Unacceptable

Proposals to freehold alpine land on top of the Hector Mountains near Queenstown have attracted considerable public opposition.

The Commissioner of Crown Lands has received 72 submissions on a tenure review proposal for Crown Pastoral Lease land on Glen Nevis Station. The proposal includes freeholding some 1,150ha of high altitude land. This is land above 900m, extending up to 1678m on the tops of the Hector Mountains. In exchange for this freeholded Crown land, the eastern side of the mountains down to the Nevis Valley is proposed for transfer to the Department of Conservation.

High Country Coalition Spokesperson, Sue Maturin said today that “the alpine land that the Crown is proposing to freehold has important conservation and recreation values, which should be protected and managed by the Department of Conservation.”

The High Country Coalition is a new group of NGO’s involving the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Federated Mountain Clubs, Public Access New Zealand (PANZ), Federation of Freshwater Anglers and the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations.

The Coalition launched a campaign to save the tops of the Hector Mountains last month.

Sue Maturin said that “the overwhelming majority of submissions, (some 79%) rejected the official proposals.”

The High Country Coalition believes the proposed Glen Nevis tenure review is a poor deal and should be turned down. The coalition believes that the proposals are contrary to the requirements of the new Crown Pastoral Land Act. They also go against Government policy.

“Tenure reviews are supposed to be win-win deals where the pastoral lessee gets to freehold land capable of sustainable use and the Crown retains land with high conservation values. But in this deal the lessee is being offered land, which has very high conservation values, and is incapable of sustainable pastoral use. Effectively, through lack of practical fencing, the runholder will also retain grazing opportunities over the remaining land to be transferred to the Department of Conservation,” Sue Maturin said.

“The land that is proposed to come to DOC is valuable and we are pleased that it includes some low altitude valley floors. However taken overall, the deal is not a good one for conservation and recreation. We are asking the CCL to discontinue the deal unless public ownership can be negotiated for the alpine western faces of the Hector Mountains and secure public access from Lake Wakatipu can be provided,” she said.

“This land should become part of the proposed Remarkables Conservation Park. It has rare plants and alpine herb communities and the hardy banded dotterel breeds on the mountain tops. The land also has high landscape values as it flanks Lake Wakatipu, and forms part of the spectacular skyline along the spine of the Hector Mountains.”

This land is in the midst of one of New Zealand’s top outdoor adventure destinations. It is a great place for tramping, climbing and cross country ski-ing and should be made accessible for year round recreation,” she said.

ENDS

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