A proposal to transfer more than 8000 hectares of Crown-owned land bordering the Waitaki into private ownership has been described as a "new low" for tenure review.
The station's pastoral lease-holders have said the proposed handover comes with protective covenants, but Green Party MP Eugenie Sage has come out firing against it.
"This proposal marks a new low for tenure review because of its extensive freeholding. It fails to provide effective protection for the backdrop to Omarama and Lake Benmore," she said.
Under the proposed tenure review, 8721ha of Omarama Station will be placed into freehold, with 161ha going back into full Crown ownership for conservation estate.
However, a Conservation Department report described the station, near Ahuriri and Benmore, as making a "significant contribution to the eastern South Island high-country landscape, mainly because of its extensive tussocklands and range of land forms".
The report noted it was home to more than a dozen different bird species that were either threatened or endangered.
Pastoral lease-holder Richard Subtil assured the public that the arrangement of QEII covenants and management restrictions would be more than serviceable.
Mr Subtil noted that the proposal suggests placing about 4000ha of the station into a mixture of covenants.
"It will be measured, managed and maintained in a way that will best preserve the inherit conservation values," he said.
However, Ms Sage said covenants had previously been used on small areas, not as a substitute for protection as conservation land.
“Tenure review has simply become a privatisation exercise if the Omarama Station proposal is to be typical of proposals under National," she said.
"The high uplands on the St Cuthbert and Ewe Ranges and their snow tussock grasslands should be protected as conservation land. The extensive free-holding highlights the Government's anti conservation agenda.”
Land Information New Zealand's report suggests the property contains more than 10,000 sheep and 800 cattle, with some areas already set aside for irrigation.
Linz pastoral manager Bill Naik said as at April 30, around 236,000ha has been designated as public conservation land as a result of tenure review.
People have until October 15 to submit on the Omarama proposal.
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