Lease of disputed farm will not be renewed
Environment Southland has not renewed a farm lease at the centre of a bitter and sometimes violent dispute between neighbours.
A regional council spokeswoman yesterday confirmed it had made the decision not to renew the lease of its West Plains farm to Iain MacGregor and Syd Douglas.
The lease expired on June 30.
Mr MacGregor has for several years been in a bitter feud with the son of Mr Douglas, Steve Douglas, who originally held the lease before Mr MacGregor took it over.
But Environment Southland did not cite the feud - which has made headlines and featured on an episode of Neighbours at War - as a reason for not renewing the lease.
In a written response to questions, a council spokeswoman said Environment Southland wanted to do extensive work on the property. Once the work was complete the lease would be put out to public tender in accordance with policy, she said.
The two men have been at loggerheads since 2010, resulting in two assault convictions, ongoing verbal abuse and many phone calls to police.
Fears were raised last year that someone would be killed unless Mr MacGregor and Steve Douglas settled down.
Neither could be contacted for comment yesterday.
Last year Mr MacGregor said he feared for his safety when alone on the West Plains Rd farm.
"He [Steven Douglas] threatens to smash my head in; I am concerned. Do we want another Feilding?" he asked, referring to the shotgun murder of Feilding farmer Scott Guy.
Steven Douglas was the original leaseholder on the Environment Southland-owned farm that the two men were warring over. He said last year he had spent about $300,000 on improvements to the 109 hectare property in 20 years before he got behind in lease payments. Environment Southland subsequently took the lease off him and his father took over the lease.
It was at that point that Mr MacGregor, who was working on the farm, "slimed his way in" to take over a share of the lease, Steven Douglas said.
Yesterday, Environment Southland property officer Doug McIntosh said the milking shed on the property was being pulled down and the land used for grazing.
The land would be retained by Environment Southland, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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