The Oreti River section of Stage Two of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail has been granted a resource consent by an independent commissioner but will go to the Environment Court after an appeal by Fish & Game.
A resource consent hearing was held from 2-5 February 2015 before Commissioner Denis Nugent.
In his decision the Commissioner said “I conclude that the adverse effects on the environment from the application overall would be less than minor, and such effects would be balanced or outweighed by the positive benefits to the Southland community of constructing the trail.”
The proposal received 232 submissions, with 89 submissions in support, 5 neutral and 138 in opposition.
Submitters can appeal the decision, and have 15 working days from the date they receive the decision to do so.
Consent was sought to construct and use a cycle trail, construct seven bridges and an underpass, to extract gravel from five sites and to construct culverts and boardwalks within road reserve.
Two resource consents were sought, one from Southland District Council and one from Environment Southland.
Forty-seven conditions have been placed on the consents (26 on SDC and 21 on ES). These conditions include the requirement for an Environmental Management Plan to be submitted prior to construction and that all disturbed ground (with the exception of two gravel extraction sites on Landcorp property) must be reinstated once the trail is completed.
Around 30 kilometres of proposed trail near the upper Oreti River and Centre Hill Road needed resource consents from Environment Southland and Southland District Council before construction could go ahead.
Consent had been sought in 2012 but a commissioner declined consent for that section due to concerns around river works and their effects on the ecology, river and amenity.
There are two significant changes; with a new lower and longer bridge over a section of the Oreti River, rather than an originally proposed suspension bridge. This has been designed to have a lesser impact visually and on the river and surroundings.
The other major change is to the proposed path the trail would take, moving it away from the river. Proposed groynes have also been removed from the proposal.