Appeal lodged against dam land swap

By Sophie Price sophie.price@hbtoday.co.nz

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Part of a beech forest on Smedley Station, Tikokino, Central Hawke's Bay, part of a 170 hectare land exchange with the Department of Conservation, (which also includes regenerating native bush and wet
Part of a beech forest on Smedley Station, Tikokino, Central Hawke's Bay, part of a 170 hectare land exchange with the Department of Conservation, (which also includes regenerating native bush and wet

Forrest and Bird have lodged an appeal against the recent High Court decision which allowed for the Smedley land swap so the Ruataniwha dam could go ahead.

Last year the environment group sought a judicial review following the decision made by Department of Conservation's director general Lou Sanson to swap 22ha of the Ruahine Forest Park for 170ha of land the HBRIC will potentially buy from Smedley Station.

Forest and Bird solicitor Sally Gepp said the notice of appeal was filed today.

She said the main reason for the group's appeal is that it believes that the High Court was wrong to find that a decision to revoke the status of specially protected land in order to enable it to be given away in a land swap deal.

"This decision if it stands would set a precedent for all of of the specially protected conservation land throughout New Zealand," she said.

HBRIC chief executive Andrew Newman says DOC undertook an extremely robust process in deciding the land exchange and the latest Forest & Bird appeal of this DOC decision is another attempt to delay the progress of the Ruataniwha Scheme, despite Forest & Bird previously publicly stating that was not their objective.

"I would have thought Forest and Bird had achieved any legitimate goal of clarifying the law around land exchanges of this kind for the future, and to launch another appeal against another aspect of the scheme is simply trying to block progress," said Mr Newman.

Mr Newman said the focus remains on confirming all elements of the scheme with many tasks completed or approaching completion.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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