Bylaw change not as intended

Marty Black.
Marty Black.
Tjhe Queenstown Lakes District Council's proposed navigation bylaw is not worded in the way originally intended by harbourmaster Marty Black.

The new bylaw proposes to extend the hours when jet-boats can operate at unrestricted speeds on the Clutha River, between two points - the upstream point 2km below the lake outlet marked by yellow poles and buoys, and the downstream point 3km below the Luggate Red Bridge.

However, emails provided to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act yesterday show harbourmaster Marty Black had a different upstream point in mind while the proposed bylaw was being worked on in June.

Asked by council senior solicitor Kristy Rusher on June 25 to ''make the changes you consider necessary'' to the Clutha River section of the bylaw, Mr Black responded the ''uplifting'' of the 5-knot speed limit should be ''from the Albert Town bridge downstream to the council's boundary which is about 3km below the Red Luggate Bridge''.

Mr Black said that would mean ''fishermen can get access below Albert Town Bridge until 10pm, which makes good sense, especially considering that there is limited access by land for this section of the river downstream''.

However, when the draft bylaw went out to the public, Schedule 3, paragraph 10 (b) stated: ''The 5-knot limit is uplifted from the yellow poles at the old county boundary downstream to the Red Bridge at Luggate during the following hours: 10am to 4pm during the months of New Zealand standard time and 10am to 10pm during the months of daylight saving.''

At the first hearing day in Wanaka on Monday, fishing groups and residents along the river vehemently opposed the change, which would allow jetboats at their normal speeds on the river during summer evenings on a popular recreational part of the river.

While Mr Black told the hearing the move was for the benefit of fishers, the Fish and Game Council and Upper Clutha Angling Club told the hearing they were unaware of fishers wanting speed restrictions ''uplifted'' and were firmly opposed to the council move.

They questioned the motivation for the proposed change, and Fish and Game Council environmental officer Peter Wilson told the ODT he suspected the bylaw change followed pressure from jet-boat operators.

''I think our conclusion was that there was a high degree of communication between one stakeholder group, probably the commercial jet-boat fraternity, and the QLDC and the harbourmaster.''

Information provided by the council yesterday contained nothing about where the idea to uplift the speed limit originated.

mark.price@odt.co.nz