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Threats to Mackenzie Country need addressing

21 November 2016

The Environmental Defence Society filed proceedings in the Environment Court late last week aimed at saving the highly valued Mackenzie Country from destructive land use conversions.

“We have recently become aware of the increasing pace of land use conversions which are destroying valued landscape and ecosystems,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“Environment Canterbury has been issuing a torrent of water consents for pivot irrigators which are being issued without proper regard for the ecological and landscape effects,”

“Moreover, land use changes are happening without approval from Mackenzie District Council and that council is not doing anything about it. The council is not enforcing the relevant rule in its plan.

“The areas of vegetation being cleared consist of critically endangered or vulnerable rare ecosystems that support endemic invertebrate, lizards, freshwater fish, and bird and plant species.

“The area is also an outstanding natural landscape with its tussock grasslands constituting a valued tourist attraction. Tens of thousands of hectares of the Mackenzie basin are being transformed into irrigation circles at a fast rate.

“We have therefore filed urgent proceedings in the Environment Court seeking to require the district council to enforce its plan.

“We are also questioning the basis on which take water consents are apparently being approved by the regional council without regard for the integrated management of other natural resources including matters of national importance.

“Our contention is that the RMA can’t have envisaged that the destruction of nationally and internationally threatened ecosystems and a world-renowned landscape could occur with impunity.

“We intend to test the lawfulness of the approaches and try to stop the flood of conversions until a proper planning framework is in place,” Mr Taylor concluded.