Cycle trail plan given partial consent
'I want to see economic growth'ALANA DIXON
Southland District Council's Around the Mountain cycle trail has been given partial consent, but a district councillor involved in its development says minimal environmental impacts were given too much weight in the decision process.
The Southland District Council applied for resource consent to build 140 kilometres of the trail, from Walter Peak to Kingston. However, a decision released yesterday by independent hearing commissioner Denis Nugent granted the project partial consent.
A contentious 28-kilometre section along the Upper Oreti was declined because of concerns the development could adversely affect the environment through the Eyre Mountains.
Five Rivers ward councillor John Douglas said he was frustrated and disappointed with the decision.
Mr Nugent's concerns included the construction of a rock groyne over the Oreti River, and suggestions that culverts in the Ashton Flats area could leach toxins, he said.
However, those environmental impacts would be limited. "Under the [Resource Management Act] it is required to consider all the environmental effects and I respect the process, but as a councillor I am concerned that I want to see economic growth," he said.
There had been positive development in towns along the Rail Trail in Central Otago, and he wanted to see the same happen in Southland, he said.
The project management group would meet tomorrow to consider whether to appeal against the decision or develop the proposed alternate route, along the Mararoa River, he said.
However, Fish and Game Southland said the decision was a win for cyclists and anglers.
Southland manager Maurice Rodway said the organisation was delighted with the decision to decline consent for the section through the Upper Oreti, instead suggesting the Mararoa River route was viable. "That's something we've been promoting all along, so we think it's a very sensible decision."
When asked to respond to Mr Douglas' view that environmental protection had been given too much weight, Mr Rodway said he believed the commissioner's considerations were "a little more balanced. I think the report is very comprehensive."
As well as considering the adverse environmental impacts of the development, the commissioner also noted the potential negative effects on the economic benefit of the internationally-renowned fishery through the Eyre Mountains, Mr Rodway said.
"It's a win-win situation by adding the cycling amenities and not losing the benefits from the fishery."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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