Ecologist checks ‘road’ works
Diggers clearing native bush in the Clarence high country have been rerouted away from conservation land.
The Kaiko¯ura District Council told David Wagner, husband of former Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner, to stop making a road on property he leased close to DOC land last month.
David Wagner initially denied he was making a road, or a track, but was carrying out earthquake repairs at Waiau Toa Station, a hunting and farming park.
But the council sent an ecologist to Waiau Toa Station to check if the works exceeded the council’s clearance rule around indigenous vegetation.
Council strategy, policy and district plan manager Matt Hoggard said the council was concerned Wagner had breached the 100 square metre clearance rule and ordered him to stop while an ecologist visited the site.
The ecologist was satisfied he had not exceeded the vegetation clearance rule, but if he had continued to develop the road over Calf Saddle, it was likely he would have breached the rule.
‘‘As a result of the ecologist having a look at the site, David has agreed to amend the location of where the track was proposed,’’ Hoggard said.
Wagner could not be reached for comment after the ecologist’s site visit. National MP Nicky Wagner declined to comment.
Before the visit, Wagner said crews stopped work on ‘‘private land’’ after council contacted him.
Tasman man Martin Douglass, who notified council and DOC about Wagner building a road, said he was concerned the work could cause ‘‘permanent damage’’ to the landscape.
Council biodiversity and planning administration officer Kate Hunt said a ‘‘track’’ was being built and they wanted to check it out.
Hunt received confirmation on February 2 that work on the track had stopped, after approaching Wagner on January 25 asking him to stop.
‘‘The rule in our district plan stipulates that no more than 100 square metres of indigenous vegetation can be cleared in any one hectare over five years, there are further conditions pertaining to the type of forest and substrate it is on that can be cleared,’’ she said.
Department of Conservation community ranger Chris Wootton said there had been no new encroachments on DOC reserve.
‘‘DOC’s concern primarily all the way along has been with the boundary between the Clarence Reserve and Waiau Toa.’’
Wootton said he supported the agreement made between the Kaiko¯ura District Council and David Wagner.