Southland's support 'not needed' for road

Southland District Council chief executive Dave Adamson.
Southland District Council chief executive Dave Adamson.

The proposed $220 million privately backed Haast-Hollyford toll road could go ahead without support from the Southland District Council, Westland's mayor says.

Westland Mayor Maureen Pugh yesterday told The Southland Times that though endorsement from the Southland District Council was desired, it was not needed to build the 127-kilometre road.

"We would like the Southland District Council to share our enthusiasm for the project, and would like them to support us in taking it to the next step, but we don't need approval from them and, regardless of how they form their resolution, we will be pursuing this project," she said.

Part of the road would be in the Southland council's catchment area, and would have to follow its resource consent conditions, but the Southland council's own district plan said roading was a permitted activity, Ms Pugh said.

"Forming a road is a permitted activity, subject to conditions under the Southland District Council's district plan, and if we meet those conditions we believe we will be able to form a road - and that's what we'll be doing."

She did not want to give the impression the Westland District Council was trying to steamroll its southern counterpart, but the matter came down to procedure rather than a political game, she said.

A Southland council district plan rule affirms road construction within a roading reserve is a permitted activity.

However, council chief executive David Adamson said gaining resource consent on that point alone was far from a sure bet.

"A new road is a permitted activity on a road reserve, but a following rule states that is provided the landowner is happy, and the road does not affect significant indigenous vegetation.

"The owner of that roading reserve is our council, so we would have to be happy with the proposed road, and I think anyone would be struggling to say that this road would not affect indigenous vegetation. Both are factors which could affect the outcome of a resource consent application."

However, the Southland council had "not dismissed" the project, Mr Adamson said.

"We would like the chance to review all the relevant information available so we can make an informed decision on this project which will be good for our area and our people."

The Southland Times