13 Dec 2008

Agency rules out appeal against ruling on grazing rights

3:04 pm on 13 December 2008

A Government agency that administers Crown lands has confirmed it will not appeal a High Court ruling relating to grazing rights in Otago.

As a result, a farmers' syndicate expects to be able to continue using an area of Crown land for summer grazing.

The Soldiers Syndicate has held grazing rights for 90 years on a block of Crown land in the Hawdun and Ida Ranges, in the Maniototo district.

It went to court after Land Information New Zealand decided to take the 4500ha out of grazing and hand it over to the Department of Conservation.

The High Court agreed with the syndicate's view that the LINZ decision reneged on an earlier proposal to designate the land as suitable for grazing under a special lease.

LINZ says it has accepted the court's decision and is going back to the earlier proposal.

But LINZ says it does not believe the High Court's decision on the Soldiers Syndicate sets a precedent for several other pastoral occupation licences that have been under review.

However, that statement does not deter the Mt Ida farmers syndicate which has been grazing a neighbouring, larger block for more than a century.

The group of five farming families has been told it will lose its grazing rights in five years.

In view of the Soldiers Syndicate decision, a spokesperson says it will consider seeking a judicial review through the High Court.

The syndicate says three of the five farming operations in the group would become unviable if they lost their access to summer grazing.