The Department of Conservation publicly notified an application for a concession by Precision Helicopters Ltd for regular landings in the backcountry inland of Hokitika. The following landing sites are proposed:
- Miserable Ridge, Totara – Mikonui Forests, 5235685.9 E 1434610.5 N
- Mount Beamount, Wanganui/Otira Catchments, 5226180.6 E 1431831.2 N
- Remarkable Peak, Wanganui/Otira Catchments, 5230282.0 E 1431661.0 N
- Prices Flat, Wanganui/Otira Catchments, 5225476.9 E 1438039.3 N
- Whataroa Glacier, Waitangi Forest, 5191753.0 E 1399398.0 N
- Mount Greenland, Upper Totara Ecological Area, 5242431.0 E 1422382.0 N
These are popular destinations for recreational users seeking remote experiences away from civilization. FMC is thus opposed to the application, and wrote a comprehensive submission.
Our main concerns are the following:
- The applicant did not provide enough information on the impact of the proposed activity on recreational users or native wildlife, nor did they offer any mitigation.
- The West Coast CMS states that “Concessions may be granted for regular aircraft landings within the backcountry-remote zone where adverse effects on conservation values, recreational users, remote or wilderness values can be avoided or otherwise minimised.” (p205) and “In the event of doubt, the operative parts of the CMS will be interpreted in favour of the intrinsic values identified at specific Places (see Volume I, Part 4, Chapter 4.2).” Yet the proposed landings would have a severe impact on the experience of recreational users visiting the area. The application appears to be inconsistent with the West Coast CMS.
- The granting of this concession does not fit with the country’s 2050 zero carbon target.
- It is not appropriate for the Department of Conservation to grant a concession to an aircraft operator that openly advertised flights over a gazetted Wilderness Area.
In light of the lack of information provided by the applicant, FMC submits that the Department of Conservation should:
- Pause processing of the Application;
- Require Precision Helicopters to supply further information (including an environmental impact assessment) against every matter listed in section 17S of the Conservation Act 1987;
- Publish all further information publicly for all submitters; and
- Re-set the timeframes for public response.
Or else, that the application should be declined at least under section 17U(2)(b) of the Conservation Act 1987 for its effects on recreation.
Click here to read FMC’s submission on the application by Precision Helicopters Ltd.
Photo at top: Dawn over the Whitcombe Valley. (c) Peter Sweetapple