In December 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman published a report assessing a decision made by the Minister of Conservation’s delegated cecision maker to approve a new concession for guided walking on the Routeburn Track.
The concession increased the number of overnight guided walkers to a level which exceeded the limits set out in the Mount Aspiring National Park Management Plan.
The Ombudsman determined the decision made by DOC was unreasonable.
In their report, the Ombudsman recommended DOC ‘review its processes for handling applications for concessions in national parks in light of [the] opinion’.
DOC has undertaken a review of how concession applications are to be assessed against statutory planning documents. The two key focuses of this review have been to:
- provide greater clarity about the definition of the terms will, should, and may as used in statutory planning documents
- better define where ‘exceptional circumstances’ may exist that may result in it being appropriate for a decision to deviate from a policy in a statutory planning document.
Guidance as to how concession applications should be assessed against planning documents has been developed as a result of this review. Feedback from conservation boards and relevant iwi has been considered in the preparation of this guidance. The guidance will be provided to DOC staff and decision makers.
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