Environmental society will not speak against whisky distillery

Julian Haworth.
Julian Haworth.
The Upper Clutha Environmental Society (UCES) says it would be wasting its time attending next week's hearing for a proposed Cardrona whisky distillery after a council planner recommended the development be approved.

Zescent Group Ltd has applied to the Queenstown Lakes District Council for consent to establish a museum and distillery opposite the entrance to Cardrona Alpine Resort.

After receiving council planner Craig Barr's report recommending the proposal be granted consent, UCES president Julian Haworth advised the council yesterday the society would not be at the hearing.

''I think we'd be wasting our time'' Mr Haworth told the Otago Daily Times.

The society was not totally opposed to the distillery and had noted in its submission the proposal had merit, Mr Haworth said.

However, it believed its ''considerable adverse visual effects'' could be mitigated by moving the building to a lower terrace.

In her report, the council's consultant landscape architect Helen Mellsop said although the ''visually prominent'' buildings would have adverse effects on natural character and openness, the development could be absorbed in the proposed location without significant adverse effects on the character of the landscape or on people's appreciation of the valley and mountain ranges.

''We don't understand how she reaches that opinion,'' Mr Haworth said.

''We can't see how the effects can not be significant and adverse when it's [the proposed development] so prominent in that outstanding natural landscape location.''

The society was also ''disturbed'' by the fact the application was assessed by an Auckland-based landscape architect who was unlikely to be sufficiently familiar with the Queenstown Lakes district plan and local landscapes.

Mount Cardrona Station director Chris Morton was the only other submitter opposed to the distillery.

His concerns related primarily to potential odour from the operation and how it would affect his proposed development of up to 1000 residential units within the Mount Cardrona Station Special Zone.

Mr Morton withdrew his submission last month, providing the council imposed conditions preventing objectionable odours beyond the boundary of the development site.

However, Mr Barr noted in his report the control of odour was primarily under the jurisdiction of the Otago Regional Council and should consent be granted it ''may not be appropriate'' for the district council to impose conditions it did not have complete jurisdiction over.

QLDC resource consent manager Blair Devlin said although there was no longer anyone who wished to speak in opposition to the proposal, next Tuesday's hearing would still proceed, ''[to] give that higher level of scrutiny from independent commissioners rather than just council staff ... given the significance of the environment and the application''.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz