3 Aug 2009

Agency says High Country rent ruling not applicable to all cases

8:49 am on 3 August 2009

Land Information says a ruling by the Land Valuation Tribunal on a case involving pastoral lease valuations and amenity values on a High Country station, applies only to Minaret Station.

The agency says there are broader implications for other leaseholders with cases before the tribunal.

High Country farmers submitted Minaret Station as a test case against proposed steep rent increases for pastoral leases.

One of the issues was a proposal to include amenity values when calculating the rent.

Amenity values take into consideration the value derived from the location or view the property has.

But the Land Valuation Tribunal in Dunedin found that these values should be excluded from the calculations.

Jonathan Wallis, of Minaret Station says the case sets a precedent for hundreds of other high country land valuation cases waiting to go before court.

High Country Accord also takes the verdict as a blanket ruling for all pastoral land lessees.

Federated Farmers High Country board chair Donald Aubrey has described the judgement as "very useful".

He believes that the judgement indicates that High Country farming can continue on pastoral leases.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the Government is looking at what rent it will charge High Country farmers, following the ruling.

He says a group of ministers is already looking at the policy, which was introduced by the previous Labour Government.

Earlier win for High Country Accord

Mr Wallis is also the chairman of the High Country Accord, which represents some of the South Island's 230 pastoral leaseholders.

Most of them opposed an attempt earlier this year to allow public access to the land they lease from the Crown.

Fish & Game went to court in March seeking to show the public had the right to access Crown-owned land run by farmers on a pastoral lease.

But the court ruled that leasehold farmers have exclusive possession of the land and the ability to restrict who uses it.