QUEENSTOWN’S council will borrow more than $320,000 from a developer to remove trees from a picturesque river bank.
Remarkables Park Ltd has agreed to loan the money to the authority interest-free for three years.
The firm will then pay contractors to remove the trees from nine hectares of public land between the Kawarau River and its own land.
Queenstown Lakes District Council councillors approved the loan this morning and work began this afternoon.
Contractors will use helicopters and a system of wires stretching across the river to remove the trees while maintaining the integrity of the steep bank.
Remarkables Park boss Alastair Porter says: “This is a great example of what can be achieved when public and private entities work together.
“A lot of credit for this QLDC approval to remove these problem pine trees is due to community services general manager Paul Wilson for his efforts to find a workable solution at relatively short notice.
“Thanks are also due to the support of neighbours on both sides of the river.”
Councillors at the full council meeting heard the removal of the trees, many of which pose are in a dangerous condition after storms last year, would allow the Wakatipu Trails Trust to formally extend the Queenstown Trail.
Councillor Cath Gilmour questioned the decision to reseed the bank with grass.
Gilmour says: “We have to acknowledge that what we are creating is a nine-hectare gorse and broom nursery.”
The land adjacent is the Remarkables Park Zone – earmarked for massive development including a new Wakatipu High School.
Facing the river in the Remarkables Park Zone will be a posh housing estate but the firm’s communications and project manager Olivia Porter confirmed the works will not open up views of the river for the houses, as the views already exist.
The loan will either be repaid in cash or in the form of reductions from developer contributions. The work is likely to take two months.