7 Jul 2009

Government denies plans to privatise high country

9:40 pm on 7 July 2009

The Government is dismissing claims it is planning wide-scale privatisation of the South Island's high country.

Conservation group Forest and Bird Protection Society fears the Government will sell Crown-owned land in the high country into private ownership as part of a review of pastoral lease land.

Under the review process, high country farmers have been able to freehold some land in return for giving leasehold property of high conservation value back to the Crown.

Forest and Bird general manager Mike Britton says the Government is planning a radical overhaul.

But Associate Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson says the group is scaremongering.

Ms Wilkinson says the tenure review is a voluntary process and farmers have a perpetual right to the land, so any claims of of privatisation are "absolute rubbish".

Agriculture and Forestry Minister David Carter said last week that recommendations will go to the Cabinet shortly which will restore confidence in the tenure review process.