Date: 07 December 2012 Source: Contact
In recent months the Department of Conservation have successfully prosecuted two helicopter pilots for landing on conservation land within Remote Experience Zones. These areas are set aside for recreational enjoyment providing a naturally quiet, remote and wilderness experience for users; aircraft are not allowed to land within the zone.
Pilot Mark Tilyard, a Taihape based helicopter pilot, was prosecuted for landing within the Remote Experience Zone in Kaimanawa Forest Park on 14 April 2012.
Mr Tilyard flew a group of hunters into the Otamateanui camp site in the Rangitikei River catchment, and flew a second group of hunters the following day into the nearby Makomiko camp site. Both of the sites where he landed were well within the Remote Experience Zone. Mr Tilyard pleaded guilty on 5 December in Taupo District Court to both illegal landings. Mr Tilyard was convicted and fined $4000 for the landings, $1200 costs to DOC, and court costs.
In passing sentence Judge Chris McGuire noted that the offending was serious because it was a deliberate act carried out for commercial gain. Judge McGuire also remarked that there is huge increasing pressure on wilderness areas throughout the world, and these areas were compromised by helicopter landings in complete contempt and defiance for the purpose of these areas. Judge McGuire commented that if these cases continue to come before the courts the level of fines can be expected to increase.
Local DOC Area Manager, Dave Lumley, states “It is disappointing to see commercial operators having little regard to the values of this unique area of public conservation land. The Judge in this case has certainly sent a warning that if helicopter companies get caught where they should not be, they will face stiff penalties” “
This case follows close on the heels of a similar DOC prosecution on 18 September 2012 this year of an illegal landing at Ecology Stream camp site within the Rangitikei Remote Experience Zone. The pilot Raymond Goodger of Auckland was found guilty and was fined $2500, $1500 costs to DOC, and court costs.
Any pilot wishing to land aircraft in Conservation Areas needs to have prior authority to do so. Written authority can be obtained by contacting the nearest DOC office and making application for a concession.
Kim Turia, Programme Manager Community Relations
Department of Conservation Taupō-nui-ā-tia Area Office
Ph: +64 7 384 7163