The government’s announcement of a fresh approach to pastoral leases gives hope for the high country.
The new direction for Crown pastoral land strikes a balance between economic use and environmental and cultural values, say Agriculture Minister David Carter and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson.
The government’s three-prong plan aims to have effective stewardship of the land, better economic use and improved relationships with lessees and high country communities.
Under the previous administration ineffective stewardship developed when too much land was put under DOC which had insufficient resources to look after it properly; economic use was compromised and relationships with lessees and high country communities were in a very poor state.
The new plan confirms the government’s commitment to basing pastoral leases on the capital value of land. It also rescinds the previous government’s policy which prevented the freeholding of any pastoral leasehold land under tenure review if even a small part of the property was within five kilometres of lakes.
This was inflexible and reduced the potential gains from diversification of land-uses enabled by freeholding. What happens to land if the owner wishes a change of use should be dealt with under the resource consent process and district and regional plans, not through tenure review.
“Labour’s policy was driving more and more land into the DOC estate, with the assumption that the Crown could better look after the land than farming families,” says Mr Carter. “This Government’s direction will maximise the best conservation and economic gains from each tenure review.”
Mr Williamson says the plan recognises the value New Zealanders place on lakesides and landscapes, and promotion of public access to the high country remains part of the tenure review programme.
“Safeguards are in place, including oversight of tenure review funding, to ensure these values are protected by tenure review and pastoral lease management,” the Ministers say.
Tenure review under the previous government had been slowed down by a requirement for Commission of Crown Lands to report to the Minister of LINZ on all tenure review proposals. The plan recommends that preliminary proposals no longer go before the minister which will speed up the process.
The paper Crown Pastoral Lease 2009 and beyond is here.
The Cabinet minute on the paper is here.
Background and archived documents on the issue are here.