Call to keep Waitata pristine

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 11:30 19/09/2012

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Landscape consultant Peter Rough suggests the whole of the Waitata Reach in Pelorus Sound should be retained as a natural area.

New Zealand King Salmon has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority to build nine new salmon farms, including five in the Waitata Reach.

Mr Rough told the authority hearing in Blenheim yesterday the farms would introduce manmade structures into Waitata Reach. An expert for the Marlborough District Council and the Department of Conservation, he rated the reach as second only to Tennyson Inlet of natural areas in Pelorus Sound.

Questioned by lawyer Julian Ironside, Mr Rough said a salmon farm would have more visual impact at White Horse Rock in Pelorus Sound than a mussel farm. Mr Ironside represents landowners in outer Pelorus Sound.

Mr Rough said the black buoys of mussel farms were almost submerged, there was no barge-building and service boats seldom visited. Salmon farms had two-metre high nets, many included barges and they attracted more people and boats.

Questioned by King Salmon lawyer Derek Nolan, Mr Rough agreed that DOC did not accept that Waitata Reach was an outstanding landscape where salmon farming was inappropriate.

Mr Rough suggested the whole of Kaitapeha Peninsula between Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel should also be rated as outstanding natural landscape, rather than just the southern area suggested by Boffa Miskell in a draft landscape study for the council.

The peninsula was a highly recognised landscape at a marine crossroads between Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel, Mr Rough said. Both sides had similar geological patterns and regenerating vegetation.

Commissioner Mark Farnsworth queried this, saying pines dominated the north side of the peninsula, and Mr Nolan suggested the area didn't have the "wow factor" needed for an outstanding landscape rating.

Mr Rough described farm simulations done by King Salmon as a "crude guide" to their height, size and position. The mock-ups excluded any attention-grabbing farming paraphernalia, moving people and flocks of noisy birds.

King Salmon had not included a recommendation from landscape advisor Frank Boffa that its Kaitira farm in Waitata Reach have no barge, he said.

The company had improved barge design but they were still substantial buildings, he said.

Mr Boffa should have looked at the combined effect of farms but instead considered them site by site, Mr Rough said.

He had also failed to consider the significant contribution of waterways to Marlborough Sounds landscapes.

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Landscape consultant Michael Steven said he could not imagine any location in the Sounds where a salmon farm would appear anything but incongruous in the landscape.

- The Marlborough Express

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