25 Nov 2010

Mackenzie conference causing a stir

12:49 pm on 25 November 2010

A conference to consider the future of the Mackenzie country is causing a stir. Federated Farmers plans to boycott the event.

Organisers of the two-day symposium, which begins in Twizel on Friday, say they want to bring stakeholders together to consider the area's future and find a common way forward.

But Federated Farmers won't be attending. Vice President Donald Aubrey, says the organisers - who include the Environmental Defence Society - are using the symposium to drive their own agenda.

EDS chair Gary Taylor says he's disappointed by this stance.

He says the purpose of the conference is identify what the issues are, with all affected parties.

But Federated Farmers says holding the symposium is not appropriate right now, because an appeal is before the Environment Court over a proposed plan change for the Mackenzie district.

However, Mr Taylor says that's a red herring. He says it's because the future of the area is being decided by court action, that they are keen to have a broader discussion about its future.

Mr Aubrey says Federated Farmers plans to hold its own symposium with representatives from farmers, high country farmers and environmental groups, once the Environment Court has handed down its decision.