Opponents of a Wakatipu jetboat operation have raised concerns about private emails seemingly contradicting an official line on the controversy.
A council boss has dismissed the concerns.
Kinloch residents who believe Dart River Jet Safaris causes damage applied under Official Information laws for copies of emails sent between Queenstown Lakes District Council officials, the company and the harbourmaster.
The residents claim the emails contradict council’s official line that there’s no evidence of damage – and also show officials instructing harbourmaster Marty Black on what to say as well as Dart bosses requesting information about residents.
In one email between Black and council regulatory boss Roger Taylor, Black says: “If boats have to use this channel they obviously will cause damage to the river bank”.
Black declined to comment but Taylor says: “Marty’s comment was in the context of a photograph with a full river on a new channel that had been opened by the river through what had previously been a wetlands area. The level of the river is almost at the top of the grass bank – in a situation like that the wake of a jetboat is likely to cause some damage to the bank but we don’t know how much.
“The Dart is a very dynamic mountain river. What we say is in that kind of environment, damage that is caused to banks and flow is by the natural patterns not by the marginal impact a jetboat might have.”
Taylor says it’s “entirely appropriate” to advise Black, a council contractor, on suggested answers.
Taylor adds an email in which Dart boss David Kennedy asks Taylor: “Any further info from you on the other Kinloch residents?” is taken out of context.
“It’s misleading. John Glover sent a long email to David Kennedy, which set out concerns. David forwarded that to me and is asking me whether I have any other information of any other concerns from Kinloch residents. It’s not sinister at all.”