14 Oct 2008

Sth Canterbury farmer to chair access commission

6:40 am on 14 October 2008

South Canterbury farmer John Acland, has been appointed the chair of the new Walking Access Commission.

The commission was established under the Walking Access Act 2008 which passed into law last week, and will take over responsibility from the Department of Conservation for creating and supervising walkways.

Last year, the Government accepted the recommendations of an independent panel that opening up private land for walking access should be done through negotiation with landowners, rather than regulation.

It opted for a voluntary approach after fierce opposition from farmers and other landowners to earlier plans to enforce greater public access to the coastline and significant waterways, through legislation.

Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor says the commission will work on developing a national strategy, mapping walking access, developing a code of conduct, assisting with dispute resolution and negotiating new walking access.

Other members of the commission include John Aspinall, Brian Stephenson, Peter Brown, Dr Kay Booth, Maggie Bayfield, John Forbes and Barbara Stuart.