Proposed road takes inland route

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

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Developers behind the proposed multimillion-dollar Haast-Hollyford road say they are going to stay away from the coast.

Westland District Property Ltd, controlled by Westland District Council, said an inland route would be more cost effective and have less environmental impact than a coastal route.

Westland District Property chairman Durham Havill said the company planned to build the Haast-Hollyford road down the original inland survey line conducted by Gerhard Mueller in the late 19th century.

"We originally looked at going along the coast to Big Bay and Martins Bay before heading inland but we decided against that option."

Staying away from the coast would reduce environmental impact and was more cost effective.

"Following the coast would certainly have enhanced the journey but we felt fauna and flora was more vulnerable on that route," he said.

The road would have hugged the coast with a ledge built above the sea and the impact on coastal wildlife had to be considered, he said.

Mr Havill said the proposed route would take advantage of the existing road from the Arawata River to Cascade, before following the Cascade Valley to Lake Wilmot.

The road would then head south alongside the Pyke River to Lake Alabaster before following the Hollyford Valley and joining the Hollyford head road, he said.

Mr Havill said the closest the road would come to the coast would be between five and 10 kilometres and "nowhere near Martins Bay".

"We understand there are a lot of bach owners in the region and we certainly don't want to impinge on their properties," he said.

Mr Havill would not reveal the source of the funding.

"It is a confidential memorandum of understanding and we are not at liberty to comment at this stage."

Westland District Mayor Maureen Pugh said the funding had come from a variety of sources.

Finding funding for the proposal had been the biggest hurdle, she said.

"This a project the Westland District Council feels strongly about and we needed to show the Government the road can be built without it costing the Government a cent. All we are asking for is their support," she said.

Mrs Pugh said the Westland District Property Ltd members hoped to meet with Southland representatives before Christmas to discuss the proposal.

"We would love their support, but the Haast to Hollyford link is something we will be pursuing and driving regardless," she said.

Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno said she had not discussed the Westland property company's plans with her council but if the Southland District Council was in a position to find time to meet with Westland representatives before Christmas, it would.

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"This is an incredibly busy period for the council but we are always happy to discuss proposals with other councils."

In 2010, Mrs Cardno said she did not believe the proposed Haast-Hollyford road was possible without some individual or group funding it, and if someone did come out of the woodwork, there still needed to be some substantial work carried out before any construction began.

In 2009, she said she was not against the Haast-Hollyford road proposal, but was aware of the many complex issues that surrounded it.

neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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