29 June 2014
Commissioner of Crown Lands
LINZ Crown Property
Private Bag 4721
Dear Mr Gullen,
Re Submission – Irishman Creek Tenure Review
Thank you for the opportunity to make this submission on behalf of our members.
Mackenzie Guardians Inc. (the Society) is a community group representing people who live in the Mackenzie Basin and around New Zealand. The Society was formed in 2009 as a result of rapid and seemingly uncontrolled development in the Mackenzie Basin. Iconic landscapes valued by New Zealanders and overseas visitors alike were being transformed into industrial farming landscapes and residential zones without consideration for their long-term impact on the environment.
Since its formation, the Guardians have made submissions on several applications to take, use, and discharge water in the Basin and were an active participant in the Mackenzie Shared Vision Forum. The Society has been particularly vigilant around planning processes and has
submitted on several plans to ensure that landscape and biodiversity values are recognised and protected.
Mackenzie Guardians were shocked to see the extent of Crown land being proposed for freeholding and the important landscapes that were being proposed for review. We are vehemently opposed to the Irishman Creek Tenure Review preliminary proposal.
When considering the objects in Part 2 of the CPLA, the Society believes the preliminary proposal will not: (a) promote the management of reviewable land in a way that is ecologically sustainable or (b) enable the protection of significant inherent values.
A significant flaw in the current tenure review process is the lack of oversight and strategic direction for the whole of the Mackenzie Country. To address the issues in the current piecemeal way will not result in better environmental outcomes for the Mackenzie.
It is disingenuous to continue with a proposal that ignores the Mackenzie Shared Vision, and the strategy agreed upon by 22 separate organisations that worked collaboratively on the Mackenzie Agreement. Better long-term environmental outcomes would be achieved if time were taken to critically assess the values of this area instead of rushing it through before legislation is passed on The Mackenzie Agreement. The Mackenzie Agreement’s vision was that 100,000 hectares should be protected and the Irishman Creek area should be assessed under this proposed legislation.
Irishman Creek is part of a significant, outstanding natural landscape. This landscape is important because it represents an intact natural landscape sequence. The wide open vistas viewed from State Highway 8 and the Tekapo canal road, across the tawny tussock lands are quintessential Mackenzie Basin landscapes. Our members, local communities and visitors from all over New Zealand – as well as international tourists – treasure the views from the basin floor to the distant alpine backdrop.
There is an urgent need to place high priority on whole altitude sequences by retaining this crown land as public land. Once they are sold they are gone forever and there is no control over inappropriate development. As District Plans can provide no certainty for landscape protection, it is inappropriate for the Crown to delegate such responsibility to the district council.
The loss through tenure review of lower altitude, high country ecosystems is of huge concern to the Society. Remaining indigenous biodiversity at lower altitudes is disappearing rapidly. More than 27% of indigenous vegetation freeholded has since been cleared. If all current leases complete tenure review and the same trends continue, this could result in the removal 65% of native lowland habitats at greatest risk of loss (Landcare Research). This is totally unacceptable to the Society. When biodiversity is lost, it is lost forever.
The tenure review proposal if accepted, would inevitably drive the intensification of farming on Irishman Creek Station. Cultivation and land use change is one of the largest threats to ecological sustainability. This is clearly obvious in other parts of the Mackenzie Basin, where dry natural/ naturalistic grasslands have been converted to green exotic grasses. Sustainability of the soil resource is not an adequate objective.
Developers of freehold land are not required to show ecological sustainability when seeking resource consents under the RMA.
Regional and local plans do not adequately protect ecological values and protection of biodiversity is falling between the cracks.
Significant inherent values (SIV)
Mackenzie Guardians are not confident that SIVs on the land will be protected if the land is allowed to become freehold, which is a requirement under the CPLA.
Land use change made possible by freeholding Crown land is the biggest threat to the property’s significant inherent values.
Potential threats are: the building of new roads and farm tracks increased man-made structures eg fences, farm buildings and houses, irrigation equipment, power lines. increased traffic subdivisions, residences and life style blocks
visual effects of cultivated, green, fertilised and/or irrigated land contrasting markedly with the naturalistic golden tussocklands pollution of waterways through the increased use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilisers and increased stock numbers loss of natural landscape character, the geomorphic character and whole altitude sequence
The Society requests the following changes to the proposal:
CA 1, CA 2 and CA 3
Approx. 2613 ha designated as land to be restored to or retained in Crown control as conservation area.
The Society supports these areas being restored to full Crown ownership and control.
Mackenzie Guardians are opposed to the conservation covenants, which provide only limited protection, and for only 15 years. The provisions in the covenant should be: to protect the natural character and to be in perpetuity.
Approx. 1400 ha designated as land to be restored or retained in Crown land control as scenic reserve.
The Society supports the proposed scenic reserve area being restored to full Crown ownership and control.
The proposal is to designate approx. 5789 ha of Crown land to be disposed of by freehold to the Holder.
The Society opposes the freeholding of such a focal area of Crown land with such inadequate protections of landscapes and biodiversity. Mackenzie Guardians requests that this land remain in Crown ownership and control.
Mackenzie Guardians have a special interest in the natural environment, biodiversity, landscapes, water and heritage of the Mackenzie Country.
The Society believes the only way to protect the area’s special character and the integrity of the wider landscape, is for it to remain in public ownership.
The disconnect between the Tenure Review and RMA processes (local and regional authorities) is resulting in inadequate protection for the unique biodiversity and landscape values of the Mackenzie. The Mackenzie District Plan has inadequate landscape and biodiversity protection methods and cannot provide the protection certainty necessary.
LINZ is charged with protecting Crown land on behalf of all New Zealanders and for future generations. The Society considers the current preliminary proposal is not in the public interest and not in the spirit of the CPLA.
The freeholding and development of lower altitude land on Irishman Creek will make the Mackenzie a less attractive place for locals and tourists with potential regional and national consequences. We urgently need to protect the unique biodiversity and landscape values of the Mackenzie Basin that are an inherent part of the highly valued Mackenzie Basin experience.
The Society requests the Crown land on Irishman Creek Station be retained in full Crown ownership and control. Crown land should be retained as pastoral lease, with no development concessions and be placed under covenant to provide protection and management for conservation in perpetuity via the proposed Mackenzie Agreement
Secretary of The Mackenzie Guardians Inc.
Supplement to Mackenzie Guardians Submission re Irishman Creek TR
The vulnerability of significant landscape values is not adequately addressed by the mapping and methods proposed in the Preliminary Proposal (PP).
LAKE PUKAKI LATERAL MORAINE – NORTH
The Lake Pukaki lateral moraine is a highly natural landscape and New Zealand’s most spectacular illustration of glacial morphology on a grand scale (see Appendix 2). The PP for an 8.5 km length of this landform (CC1) is assessed as inadequate. Under the CPLA 1998 s.40(1), a PP may designate land to be disposed of subject to “protective mechanisms” related to (2) protection of SIVs, ecologically sustainable management, public access or enjoyment.
The PP proposes the lakeshore lands of Irishman Creek north of the canal be disposed off with a covenant (CC1) that does not protect the SIVs, provide ecological sustainability, public access or enjoyment. Whilst the landcover has been modified through OSTD, it retains high natural character which contributes very importantly to the Pukaki basin landscape. The natural character is not provided by the wetland and kettleholes alone. The proposed covenant is stated to protect the “Landscape Amenity” of the Lake Pukaki Lakeside Face. However the draft covenant merely limits development to one house and no subdivision or forestry, and this only for a maximum of 15 years.
A limit of one house and no subdivision or forestry does not achieve the requirement of the Act. In particular it does not protect the stated landscape amenity as per covenant Schedule 1 which is provided by “the high apparent naturalness”, the “highly natural landscape”, “spectacular demonstration of glacial morphology” with crucial “uniform brown colour” from the naturalness of the vegetative cover on the intricate landforms of the lateral moraine complex. Instead, the covenant (Schedule 2) explicitly allows for clearance of tussock and shrubland cover, for unlimited cultivation and cropping of the land, and, for earthworks for farm subdivision. Being silent on shelterbelt establishment, such activity could be undertaken, along with irrigation, as the land has identified irrigation potential (Lynn et al, 2003).
As noted below, RMA methods provide little assistance and no security for protection of the landscape amenity. The District Plan’s Lakeshore Protection Area addresses only a strip of the land, and does not provide adequate measures or security for landscape protection. Hoping for adequate future measures is not appropriate for achieving the protection of the landscape SIV.
Land development activities that are allowed for by the proposed covenant and RMA methods would potentially very significantly adversely affect the landscape amenity. Subdivision and forestry are not the only threats. With or without the proposed covenant, substantial landscape change can occur. The PP thus currently involves inadequate methods to achieve the intended protection that is appropriate as per the CPLA.
Government Policy (2009 and Beyond) is for (10.1) effective stewardship ensuring (10.1.2) “pastoral and inherent values, including the natural character of lakesides and landscapes, are maintained and protected”. In providing for inadequate protection covenant protection and unencumbered freeholding of important lakeshore and landscapes which do not protect their natural character, the PP does not satisfy this government policy. The concerns around lakesides are not mitigated by measures listed in the Policy s. 21. The options to be investigated under Policy para 22 of covenants preventing subdivision are inadequate in this instance as it is not subdivision that necessarily has the adverse landscape effects. Whilst Policy requires consideration of District Plan controls be taken into consideration when undertaking tenure review, analysis demonstrates that such measures are in this instance inadequate and unsustainable.
The CC1 lands contribute importantly to the Hayman Road visual corridor and part of the Canal Road visual corridor, including that the naturalness of their landscape character is important foreground to mountain peaks beyond. The District Plan’s Scenic Viewpoint SV11a does not provide adequate or secure landscape protection.
It is not an accepted CPLA method to assume that RMA measures will provide the matters as per a protection mechanism under s.40. Whilst government policy sought such methods be explored, there has been no evidence that such landscape protection is achievable, adequate or secure. The CRR sought protection of CC1 via a landscape covenant to protect lakeside and natural values. However, as drafted the proposed covenant is assessed as an entirely inadequate method. Thus approval by the Minister of Conservation’s delegated authority is under question by the Mackenzie Guardians.
The CRR also sought protection inland of the CC1 and north of the Canal – CA1 and CC2. A covenant was sought on the upper Maryburn Basin, CC2, and the CA1 to include Mt McDonald. However the PP proposes these be unencumbered freehold. The natural character of these glacial landforms is of high significance and is not protected by the PP. The upper areas of a suite of moraine landforms contribute importantly to views from the Canal Road, and contribute to landscape integrity and legibility. Whilst identified for DOC for
their landscape importance, the PP fails to protect their landscape attributes and this is seriously questioned. No protection by RMA methods can be assumed. The landscape values in CC2 had been assessed as of high significance.
BALMORAL OUTWASH PLAIN (west)
North of the Canal, between SH8 and Irishman Creek, the dry grassland clothed outwash forms a crucial foreground to the Mackenzie Basin floor experience. Travelling north on SH8, the overview of the outwash to Aoraki Mt Cook is absolutely iconic. The Scenic Viewing Point (SV11) delineates a crucial area of naturalness. However RMA methods do not secure the necessary landscape protection. Whilst included in the CRR, the PP has this area as unencumbered freehold. Additional information, including photographic, provides the basis for revising the proposal. (see Appendix 1)
Revised landscape protection provisions are needed for the CC1 area. Expansion of landscape protection across the Balmoral Outwash to near the SH8 – Canal corner, is needed. Landscape covenants are sought by Mackenzie Guardians to protect the natural landscape amenity of the moraine and the ridge landform series. The skyline landforms require visual landscape protection, to retain the naturalness of their uncluttered, tawny grassland skylines, with shrublands allowed to stay, no buildings and no scarring fence lines, tracks or obvious development.
In terms of revising the PP, this would be justified in that the CRR report did not adequately convey the landscape values (background reports should thus be utilised) nor adequately assess the adequacy of protection methods.
District Plan methods are noted and their adequacy assessed, including:
District Plan . Rural Zone. Issue 7.
Particular landscape values, which could be degraded by inappropriate redevelopment, include visual openness, a sense of naturalness, sense of landform continuity, small well-separated towns and spectacular views such as the iconic views up the lakes, particularly Tekapo and Pukaki. The loss or degradation of views from the iconic tourist highways could also occur. (page 7 -9) However the methods provided do not adequately address this identified issue.
Rule 3.1.1.e, 15m high farm buildings and 8m high residential buildings are permitted and can be setback just 50 or 100 m from the state highway, 20 m from other roads, and setback 100m from the lake (Rule 3.1.1.f) but not within the Lakeside Protection Area (Rule 3.1.1.h). Buildings and earthworks are discretionary activities (Rule 15.2.1), which may therefore be consented to occur. Constructing Visitor Accommodation and Retail premises is also allowed through these lands as discretionary activities (Rules 8.2.1, 9.2.1). The only limitation is that no building is to be erected on the Scenic Viewing areas shown on the Planning Maps, or on a Site of Natural Significance (Rule 3.1.1.e). These limitations do not prevent built development potentially adversely affecting the landscape SIV areas proposed to be freeholded. Landscape protection from built development is not provided by the District Plan, and should not be assumed in the PP.
Rural Policy 1A – Department Of Conservation and Landholders
To promote the long-term protection of sites with significant conservation values by encouraging:
– landholders and relevant agencies to pursue protection mechanisms and agreements;
– tenure review processes under the Land Act and Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998;
– implementation of the Conservation Management Strategy ….
As is clear in Rural Policy 1A, DOC and LINZ have a duty to promote the long-term protection of the conservation values. However LINZ in particular has been silent in this regard. The District Plan is assuming crown agencies will protect the values, thus agencies should not attempt to delegate responsibility to the council as is proposed in the PP.
Tree planting is a Permitted activity in the District Plan, with shelter belts allowed at right angles to the roads, otherwise set back just 300 m from a road, with further belts 1km apart. Forestry is permitted but must be within 900 m of farm buildings and setback 300 m from a road (Rule 6.5.1). Trees are to be planted within the Scenic Viewing Area (or in Sites of Natural Significance) as per Controlled activity measures (Rules 6.2.5.b & c), with other tree planting as a Discretionary activity within Scenic Viewing Areas (Rule 6.4.2), and hence may be consented. Rule 4 Pine species are not to be planted, but Douglas Fir is permitted, and it is increasingly known as “the new contorta” due to its ability to spread prolifically. Forestry is permitted to be established to just 100 m from the lake (Rule 6.1.18.g, and 6.2.5.f)). Wilding spread is only required to be controlled within 500m, yet wilding dispersal for 10 km is known in the Basin.
Thus it is clear the District Plan provides no security regarding potential intrusive tree plantings occurring that could affect identified significant landscape values within and beyond Irishman Creek.
Clearance of short tussock grasslands is partially limited by the District Plan (Rule 12.1.1.g), with 40 ha at a time, but under mechanisms to be reviewed in 5 years. Thus providing no security at all. Even where the tussock canopy may have a visual dominance, where inter-tussock grassland is dominated by exotic clovers and/or exotic grasses from OSTD as in areas of Irishman with important natural landscape value, there is no protection provided by the District Plan. Also, pastoral intensification is permitted to occur on 5% of an SNA.
Relevant Scenic Viewing Areas (Appendix J) are stated to include:
Site 11 Irishmans Creek Provides view to north west to Irishmans Creek Station.
Site 11a Pukaki Canal Provides views to Aoraki/Mount Cook area
Site 12 The Wolds Provides view to north west to Irishmans Creek and mountain tops in the distance.
However the District Plan does not protect the identified SIV landscape values on Irishman Creek that are essential ingredients of these views. The District Plan basically addresses only visual access to the mountain views beyond through limiting to some degree buildings and tree plantings. Whilst protection might have been assumed from Appendix J wording (above), the District Plan does not protect the landscape values of the view. The PP is incorrect to seemingly depend on District Plan measures to protect the landscape values of Irishman Creek outside of SR1, CA1,2 and 3.
Also, the District Plan is open to plan change applications and reviews, and hence provides no certainty.
I assess that RMA methods have been inappropriately relied upon to enable the securing of the landscape SIVs, the landscape and lakeside values, as per the CPLA and Government Policy.
The ecological sustainability advice provided by SCION to LINZ does not adequately address the task. The CPLA Part 2 requirement to provide for ecological sustainability should not be addressed merely as a task of retaining soils. Mackenzie Guardians question the Commissioner’s narrow interpretation of his responsibility. As advised by Landcare Research, assessing ecological sustainability needs to also include such aspects as the enhancement and maintenance of biotic attributes, including indigenousness.
Considering Government Policy (2009 and Beyond), the PP is flawed in assuming adequate protection of the landscape SIV can be achieved and secured by RMA methods.
As there has been no previous landscape peer review of the proposed protection methods, it’s inadequacy has not been articulated. Thus this new information and reasoning needs to be addressed in revising the Proposal. The landscape importance and vulnerability of the grand lateral moraine system in total was not previously recognised. In addition, subsequent to the CRR it has been identified that these dry moraine ecosystems are nationally rare and are a national priority for protection. Such information needs to be addressed in revising the Proposal.
Due to reasons stated by and for Mackenzie Guardians, an alternative outcome to that presented in the Preliminary Proposal is recommended as more appropriate to address the very high landscape importance of much of these lands.
Lucas Associates Ltd www.lucas-associates.co.nz
7 July 2014
Appendix 1. View from State Highway 8 over the Balmoral Outwash (west) to Aoraki that is inappropriately freeholded in the PP. The roadside corridor, and the foreground 6 km to this iconic Aoraki view, would be freeholded with landcover change allowed.
1. View from Canal Road over rare dry grassland moraine landforms to the Alps including Aoraki, which would be entirely unprotected by the PP and vulnerable to landuse change.
2 – 6. Lateral moraine overviews
7. Lateral moraine context