Prominent Cardrona Valley families lent their support to a
proposed whisky distillery at a hearing in Wanaka yesterday,
saying the development would inject life into the village.
Retired Cardrona farmers and ski industry entrepreneurs John
and Mary Lee and sixth-generation Cardrona farmer Tim Scurr
said the distillery - featuring tastings, tours and a museum
- would bring considerable social and economic benefits.
The trio spoke at a hearing to consider a resource consent
application to the Queenstown Lakes District Council for the
development, which would be built opposite the entrance to
Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Wanaka woman Desiree Reid's company Zescent Group Ltd gained
the backing of the Cardrona community for the project.
Mr Scurr, chairman of the Cardrona Heritage Trust, which
would have control over the museum exhibits, said Cardrona
was once a ''thriving, self-contained destination'' and
needed more year-round employment.
As the hub of the Upper Clutha skifields district, it
''shouldn't be treated as a backwash in some isolated place
where the average traveller wouldn't take the time to
The Upper Clutha Environmental Society's (UCES) submission
that the whisky distillery development would be too visual
was ''a nonsense'', Mr Scurr said.
Mrs Lee agreed the development would ''inject life into the
''I've heard numerous stories of people looking for things in
Cardrona and they end up in Queenstown.''
The museum would be a valuable resource and new digital
methods of displaying material would give a ''real personal
touch'' to the stories of the valley.
Mr Lee spoke of Cardrona's rich gold-mining history and the
need to preserve that information.
Farming was ''going backwards'' and the distillery and museum
attraction would be a ''wonderful thing'' to reinvigorate the
valley and ensure much needed social services survived in the
small rural settlement.
Ms Reid's planner, Scott Edgar, considered the development a
discretionary activity, which differed from council planner
Craig Barr's view it held a non-complying status.
However, all parties agreed that should a discretionary
activity consent be required, the development still satisfied
the threshold tests of the Resource Management Act.
The discrepancy might therefore end up being a
''technicality'' that would have little bearing on the
decision, commissioner Andrew Henderson said.
Mt Cardrona Station earlier withdrew a submission against the
application on the basis a condition be included to address
any odour from the distillery.
Only the UCES remains in opposition to the application but it
did not attend the hearing.
It believed the development would have less adverse visual
effect if sited on a lower terrace.
However, that alternative location was in an area susceptible
to liquefaction and was likely to have been disturbed by
gold-mining, Mr Edgar noted.
It was therefore not appropriate, given the potentially
hazardous nature of the goods being produced and stored on
the distillery site.
Ms Reid told the hearing she was considering establishing a
small-scale malting plant in the future, which would mean the
distillery could use barley grown in the district.
Commissioners Mr Henderson and Lyal Cocks will issue their
decision within 15 working days.