Farmer says Mt Messenger road option would be environmental and ecological suicide
Taranaki farmer Tony Pascoe has lived in the same house off State Highway 3, on the northern foot of Mt Messenger, all his life.
But Pascoe fears he may be moved off his land if the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) decide to use it for a new highway bypassing the notoriously steep and windy stretch of road.
For months the NZTA has been considering five options for a new route bypassing Mt Messenger.
Three options, A, B1 and B2, travel west of Mt Messenger. Option D is a straighter, re-routing of the existing highway and Option C is a 5.2km route skirting the eastern side of Mt Messenger, before heading down the long valley to within 100m of the Pascoe's house before rejoining SH3.
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Pascoe has also been told Option C will be announced as the favoured route by NZTA and he's expecting a knock on his door this week.
"They must be nuts," he said.
"It's environmental and ecological suicide.
"Large stands of native trees will be destroyed to build the road, and the land will take years to settle to become hard."
Drill down 100 metres and you will hit a "sandy mush", he said.
Pascoe believed Option C was also the least safe route for motorists of the five options.
"Everyone wants Option A, it's high up and it's dry.
"We get heavy fog here which doesn't lift, and heavy minus six degree Celsius frosts in this valley during the winter, and you'll get black ice on the road if they build it.
"There is a lot of rain which will cause slips and flooding."
Pascoe said the area received 2.3 metres of rain a year on average and so far 300 millimetres in august - almost three times the normal amount.
"It has just rained and rained for days," he said.
While Option A is the most favoured route for the road transport industry it cuts through nine hectares of Ngati Tama iwi owned land which, contains 700-year-old totara trees and endangered kokako birds.
The iwi would prefer as minimal encroachment on its land as possible and have worked closely with NZTA throughout the consultation process.
Ngati Tama runanga board member Conrad O'Carroll has said previously he "personally" supported Option C.
Not knowing what decision will be taken has been stressful, Pascoe said, with his voice breaking and tears in his eyes.
If his hunch is correct he can do little to change the decision.
"If they come down through here we don't know how much of our land they will take."
If he loses the farm he doesn't know at his age where he would go.
"How do you shift from a place you have been born and bred on?
"I don't know what will happen, I really don't know.
"The people making the decision don't live here, they can walk away.
"But I live here and this is my home.
Pascoe said he aired his concerns because if he didn't speak out he would regret it for the rest of his life.
NZ Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships Parekawhia McLean said the agency had been working with all stakeholders on the options for Mt Messenger.
A decision on which option is to be chosen would be made on Thursday.
- Taranaki Daily News