Ecol­o­gist checks ‘road’ works

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - EMILY HEYWARD

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.

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