Exclusive use can benefit environment

January 12, 2011

Federated Farmers makes a stand for landowners in saying that fishing rights shouldn’t trample property rights:

Federated Farmers will defend a fundamental principle of land ownership – the right to exclude access – even if some anglers may have to choose to pay for convenient access.

“Federated Farmers agrees that selling river fishing rights is against the law,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Yet all landowners have the right to exclude access to their land by people who are uninvited, whether you live in the town or the country.

Few people would expect to have open access to a section in town, it doesn’t make any difference in the country just because the property is bigger.

“What this boils down to is common courtesy and respect for the property of others.  I know many farmers who freely grant access for recreational hunting or fishing but it’s based on the common courtesy of asking permission first. 

“A farm may be open ground but its also private property like someone’s house in-town.  Importantly it’s also a working environment that may contain sensitive areas or hazards.  Taking rather than securing permission is not only illegal but may have unintended adverse consequences.

“Anglers need to respect the right of the landowner to grant or refuse access.  After all, if you’ve had your gates left open, fences damaged or discarded fishing line left behind, then you’re probably less inclined to say yes. . .

We have never had any problems with people who’ve asked permission to cross or property but we have had problems with those who don’t – including theft of fuel, illegal hunting and damage to a security camera.

Donald was responding to comments from anglers criticising landowners who grant exclusive access to fishing guides which was the subject of a post on Monday.

Over at Offsetting Behaviour, Eric Crampton points out there can be environmental benefits from exclusive access:

One of my favourite Kiwi enviropreneurs is Elm Wildlife Tours down in Dunedin. I always recommend that folks visiting the Department book in with them if heading that way. Elm partnered with a local farmer whose land had Yellow-Eyed Penguin habitat: Elm gets exclusive access for its tour groups and works to improve the habitat. Making the resource excludable encourages conservation.

Maintaining and enhancing natural resources takes money and this is an excellent way to control access, for the sake of the landowner and the penguins, and ensure the habitat is looked after.

Landowners are charging for access, not for fishing, although if the only way to the river is through a farm it’s a distinction which makes no difference. Those complaining about that ought to remember it’s not only private landowners who charge. DoC sells concessions to tourist operators who use  land under their control and they also sell the right to hunt on it.

We neighbour a DoC block and the easiest access is through our property. We’ve never charged anyone who’s asked to cross our land although that increases the need for maintenance on our tracks.

But charging by DoC is a sensible form of user pays – those who make money from others or enjoy hunting  on DoC  land pay for the privilege which helps offset the cost of maintenance and enhancement.


Property rights sacrosanct

August 11, 2008

The ODT editorlialises on the Walking Access Bill and concludes:

There will be regret in several quarters that private property rights have been protected seemingly to a greater degree than the public’s rights of access, and that this Bill amounts to a concession that the original admittedly ambitious proposals were simply too difficult to reconcile with the level of objection.

The pity would have been had property rights not been protected because they are one of the basic planks of democracy.

No-one has the right wander on to someone else’s quarter acre section and use it for a picnic, exercise, walking dogs, hunting, having sex, or as a loo. 

I know people who have come across uninvited visitors doing all of these things. The reasons that make that unacceptable in a city section apply just as much in the country and regardless of how much bigger the property is.

Private Property rights go back to the Magna Carta and if the land owner has to give them away it must be by negotiation and, if appropriate, with compensation.


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