Delta a dumping ground

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Trimmed down: Looking across the Frankton site to Pak'nSave

Queenstown’s council has approved dumping thousands of truckloads of fill on the Shotover Delta – in an outstanding natural landscape area.

Consent got the thumbs-up in November despite a report from Dr Marion Reid, its own consultant, raising concerns.

March Construction Limited was ordered by the High Court in August to move 12,000 truckloads of dirt from a Frankton site, which it completed early this month.

Planning manager Blair Devlin wouldn’t be interviewed.

But in an emailed statement, he dismisses any hint of wrongdoing on the council-owned land.

He says issues were addressed through consent conditions.

Landscape architect Reid’s concerns were over environmental issues.

Her report said: “The earthworks would have an adverse effect on the character of the landscape creating a further artificial landform which would be inconsistent with the natural landforms in the vicinity. The extent of this effect would be significant.”

However, the council’s report approving the consent, prepared by consultant planner Alice Burnett, considered effects to be “less than minor.”

Devlin explains evidence is taken into account by the council “but is not bound by it”.

“Landscape consider-ations are one (important) part of an overall planning assessment.

“The site is difficult to see from public places, and when finished in a natural contour it will resemble a river terrace, a natural feature common on the other side of the Shotover River.”

The end result is considered to be an environmental improve-ment, he adds.

Devlin says Reid’s report recognises other consented activities in the area.

These include gravel extraction from the Shotover River, the designated wastewater treatment plants, as well as the ecology of the area being modified by the spread of non-native plants such as broom.

The report describes the delta site – not far from the end of Queenstown Airport’s runway – as the best available option.

Devlin wouldn’t be drawn on what other sites were considered.

Avoiding heavy traffic on the state highway and Frankton, well known Queenstown choke-points, was pitched as a key factor.

Shane Fairmaid, project manager for March Construction, says council made the land available – but it wasn’t the only option it considered.

He wasn’t prepared to talk numbers.

Council’s report also provided an assessment of the “effect on human health” as the fill would cover and be mixed with “bio-solids”, or poo.

Council also confirms it is using the site to dispose of waste from the Eastern Access Road – and another 10,000 cubic metres is still to be dumped on the site.

louises@scene.co.nz