Council satisfied Saddle Hill profile is unchanged

Concerns the ridge line of Saddle Hill's smaller hump is continuing to change are not shared by the director of the company quarrying the hill and the Dunedin City Council.

Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather raised the matter at this week's board meeting.

''Looking from the corner of Montrose and Larnach Sts (in Mosgiel), it was apparent to me the front edge of the rim is diminishing at a fast rate.''

He said he spoke to the council and was assured staff were monitoring an area of Jaffrays Hill the court ruled could not be quarried, by taking photos from the same three spots once a week.

However, he did not believe the points staff took the photos from were all encompassing.

''They certainly monitor the peak, but when it comes to the edges of the quarry I don't know that they entirely reflect the changes we see from Mosgiel.''

His concerns follow similar ones from Saddle Hill Community Board members who recently said they believed the hill's ridge line was changing from their perspective, despite a November 9, 2012, interim enforcement order from the Environment Court.

The order requires quarry operator Saddle Views Estate Ltd to stop earthworks outside a specific area, identified in the order, on the hill until a decision is made on an application to the court from the council seeking a direction on what quarrying can be lawfully carried out on the hill, which is a landmark of the area.

The court has already declared no consent to quarry the hill exists, or ever did, and says it is not satisfied, at this stage, that there are any existing use rights for quarrying on Saddle Hill, but has asked for more information before making a decision.

Saddle Views Estate, which has been quarrying the site, has appealed the decision that no consent exists for the activity. An appeal hearing is expected in July.

Council resource consent manager Alan Worthington said the council was satisfied from its monitoring that the profile of the hill outside the allowed quarry area had not changed.

It could be that from different perspectives, certain angles and in certain light the skyline area might appear different, but the council would speak to Mr Feather and another Mosgiel resident who had also contacted the council, to be sure it was clear what parts of the hill they were specifically concerned about.

Staff had been taking the photos since late last year, following community concerns.

They had also been taking photos from several other positions less frequently.

Saddle Views Estate director Calvin Fisher said he understood there was much emotion about the hill, but the company had not touched the restricted ridge line area since the order was put in place, and it would not be in its interest to do so.

''We are conscious of our upcoming court case and we are not about to jeopardise that.''

He said the very top of the hill, some of which was constructed of fill following earlier quarrying efforts, had been eroding naturally for many years.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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