20 Apr 2015

Minister passes on Opua easement decision

7:43 pm on 20 April 2015

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says it is up to the Far North District Council to decide if an Opua boat-yard should gain easements over a coastal reserve.

Walls Bay Reserve

People working on a boat that’s up on the slip on the Walls Bay esplanade reserve. Photo: Supplied / Maiki Marks

DOC has until now refused to grant easements to the boatyard owner Doug Schmuck, matching resource consents that allow to to work on boats on his slipway.

The Department said the Reserves Act did not give it power to do that, but the High Court found last month that the Minister does have jurisdiction and should reconsider.

However Ms Barry said that sort of decision was delegated to district and regional councils by her predecessor Nick Smith.

She says the it was for the Far North council to make the call on easements for Mr Schmuck .

Councils around the country were given greater powers in 2013 to manage more than 7000 reserves around the country.

Dr Smith said at the time that a typical example would be a decision to allow camping on a reserve.

Until then a council needed the consent of the Conservation Minister fore easements , authorising new activities on a reserve or changing its classification.

"This change means councils will be able to make the decisions themselves, although they will still need to act in accordance with the Reserves Act", Dr Smith said.

Ms Barry said the issue of the Boatyard and the Walls Bay Reserve had been a long-running one and she hoped it could be resolved satisfactorily.

Bay of Island Conservation groups were taking the council to the High Court, after it gave approval last October for Mr Schmuck to work on the reserve in line with his resource consents.

Mr Schmuck said he always has and always will support public access to Walls Bay through the reserve.

He said the boatyard was a very social place, and attracted more than 2000 visitors a year for boating, and other activities.

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