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Movie Benefits From Environmental Double Standard

7 November 2004 - Christchurch

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe benefits from Environmental Double Standard

The Selwyn District Council appears to be applying an environmental double standard to ensure no obstacles are placed in the way of multi-million dollar overseas film production The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Forest and Bird is concerned that five meter wide new roads with substantial earthworks, cuts and high batters have been constructed through an area of outstanding natural landscape above Cave Stream on Flock Hill Station adjacent to the scenic Arthurs Pass Highway corridor.

The roads are to provide access to one of the locations for the filming of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Forest and Bird Field Officer Tony Lockwood said "The new roads are a significant permanent scar on what is otherwise a magnificent largely unmodified natural landscape. The scenic qualities of the area are obviously what attracted the film company to the site in the first place, yet the council has allowed those same qualities to be compromised by the construction of these roads."

"The Selwyn District Council allowed the work to proceed without a resource consent until media coverage of the issue by the Press in Christchurch and lobbying of Council staff by Forest and Bird forced the council to require a consent to be applied for", Mr Lockwood said.

"This was in spite of the construction work clearly breaking rules in the Council's own planning documents requiring a consent to be granted before work could begin, and acknowledgement in the plan that the area had outstanding natural landscape values and features."

"Even then construction work was allowed to continue while the consent was being applied for and processed. The consent has since been granted by council staff without public notification or even any referral to the councilors themselves who represent the public interest in this matter."

"If I was just an ordinary bloke living in the Selywn District and I tried to do this amount of construction work without a consent, the Council would have thrown the book at me," Mr Lookwood said. "It's a clear double standard."

Mr Lockwood thought it was doubtful whether the new roads were even needed. A good existing 4WD track provided access to the area which, along with helicopters, may have provided adequate access.

"Imagine the damage to many of our most beautiful and iconic landscapes if the producers of "The Lord of the Rings" had been allowed to build new five meter wide roads into each location," he said.

"Peter Jackson seems to have had a much greater appreciation of the value of our landscapes - it's a pity that the Selywn District Council don't appear to share that appreciation."

ENDS

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