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New consents lodged

A resource consent application has been renotified for a section of the second stage of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail.

Consent applications have been lodged with Environment Southland and the Southland District Council for work relating to about 30km of proposed trail near the upper Oreti River and Centre Hill Road.

Meanwhile, the opening of stage one, from Kingston to Mossburn, is being held on Saturday November 1.

Stage two, from Walter Peak to Mossburn, covers 86km and work is expected to begin in November on the sections which have already been granted consent.

A commissioner declined consent for the section being renotified after the 2012 hearing due to concerns around river works and their effects.

Southland District Council resource management planner Marcus Roy said the concerns were around a proposed rock groyne to go into the bed of the river.

“The works to build the rock groyne was going to affect the channeling of the river, the way it was going to go,” he said. “Then there was going to be a big suspension bridge.”

“When you get a suspension bridge, you’ve got to have a tower at one end and a tower at the other and you’ve got to try and force the river through that gap.”

The revised application had no river works to construct a rock groyne, and the design of the bridge had been modified, Mr Roy said.

“It’s a 215m long, low bridge about 4m off the bed of the river and 3m higher than the surface,” he said. “It basically goes bank to bank, so that the river can meander and change channel.”

Fish and Game councillor Ron Peacock said the revised route would still compromise the Oreti River as a unique and precious fishery.

“There’s a very important fishery in that upper eddy,” he said. “It’s one of the iconic brown trout fisheries in New Zealand.” Close proximity encounters between cyclists and anglers was raised as a concern in the original Fish and Game submission on the consent.

“This alternative option that they’ve now lodged a consent for doesn’t really mitigate the issues raised in the original submission. It still puts cyclists into that remote zone,” Mr Peacock said. “You’re looking at putting 400-odd people every day. The peak of the cycling season is going to be to the peak of the fishing season.”

The river is the subject of a Water Conservation Order made in 2008, stating that the Oreti is to be protected for its outstanding characteristics including being a habitat for brown trout, an angling amenity, and having value in accordance with tikanga Maori.

The Oreti River is New Zealand’s third most fished trout fishery.

An alternative route proposed by Fish and Game follows the Mararoa river from the Vonn Bridge down to Little Hill before crossing Mavora Lakes Road and re-joining the planned trail on to Lumsden.

Submissions on the consent application are open until November 4.

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