Central Plains Water's (CPW) proposed dam across the Waianiwaniwa Valley would be like a line of tower blocks extending 2km across the Canterbury countryside, a hearing has been told.
Landscape architect Di Lucas, who was giving evidence on behalf of the Malvern Hills Protection Society, produced a photo montage of the 55m-high dam based on the comparable height of the Forsyth Barr tower in Christchurch.
"The character as well as the scale of the proposed dam is inappropriate in this location," Lucas told the hearing into the scheme yesterday.
She said her photo montage was only "indicative" and she was "reasonably confident" it was how the finished dam would appear.
Lucas said the area around Coalgate and Glentunnel, near where the dam would be built, had been "like a paradise" for Maori and had historical importance for European settlers.
"The Malvern Hills landscape will not be able to retain the integrity of this heritage landscape if the scheme proceeds," she said.
CPW plans to create a lake in the Waianiwaniwa Valley that will provide water to irrigate 60,000ha of farmland.
It says the scheme would bring economic advantages to the area and is offering to manage the environmental impacts and compensate those affected.
Lucas questioned whether the measures, such as establishing habitats elsewhere and introducing native plants around the dam and other constructions, would be good enough.
She said the fact the lake would rarely be full because of water extraction meant it would be difficult to access it for recreation.
Lucas said the scheme should not go ahead.
"The effects of the scheme on the environment in terms of amenity, landscape and heritage are assessed to be significantly adverse and not able to be avoided, remedied or mitigated," she said.
Forest and Bird also expressed concerns to the four commissioners.
Ecologist and conservationist Dr Colin Meurk said indigenous habitats and species had already suffered as a result of farming. This made it all the more important those remaining were protected.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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