Council criticised over KJet extension

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has been criticised for an apparent lack of disclosure over a jet-boat company's plans to extend its operations.

Yesterday, the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2014 hearing resumed in Queenstown.

However, submitters called for the bylaw to be renotified by the council after Kawarau Jet Services Holdings Ltd, operating as KJet, asked to amend the bylaw, enabling commercial boating operations on the Kawarau River, below the confluence with the Arrow River, where the bylaw forbids powered vessels to run.

Whitewater New Zealand conservation officer Doug Rankin said the process had been unfair and if the council was to make a ''sweeping change'' to the bylaw - primarily focused on safety - due process should be followed.

He contended there was no notification of KJet's proposed amendment.

Queenstown Rafting managing director Vance Boyd said to alter the bylaw in the manner suggested by KJet would ''open up a very large can of warms''.

At present, that section of the river was exclusively for non-powered users, like kayakers and whitewater rafters.

Mr Boyd said about 30 people had submitted on the issue of the commercial application, but had it been notified it was likely many more would have taken the opportunity.

Council regulatory general manager Lee Webster told the hearings panel if it was minded to amend the bylaw, it would be a ''major change'' and the council would need to reconsult on KJet's proposal.

However, Graeme Todd, counsel for KJet, disagreed, saying there was no need to consult again.

Council chief executive Adam Feeley, who had not been part of the hearing, said if the panel thought it was necessary to re-notify the bylaw, ''then absolutely that can and will be done''.

The panel adjourned last night.