Saddle Hill quarry to continue

The ruling ensured the protection of the landmark hill's distinctive ridgeline, but left...
The ruling ensured the protection of the landmark hill's distinctive ridgeline, but left questions about the extent to which quarrying could continue under existing use rights. Photo: ODT files
A controversial quarry will be able to continue on Dunedin's Saddle Hill as long as it remains within its existing footprint, the Dunedin City Council says.

Sue Bidrose
Sue Bidrose

The quarry, owned by Saddle Views Estate Ltd, has been operating under existing use rights since a Court of Appeal ruling in April, which confirmed an old consent for the operation was no longer in force.

The ruling ensured the protection of the landmark hill's distinctive ridgeline, but left questions about the extent to which quarrying could continue under existing use rights.

Council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said yesterday the council was now satisfied the quarry could continue under existing use rights, as long as it did not expand its borders.

An interim protection order remained in place, protecting the hill's distinctive ridgeline, which had been the council's primary objective, he said.

Limits set by the Resource Management Act, together with health and safety legislation, also restricted the extent of future quarrying, he said.

For example, a requirement for benching of the excavation pit, to prevent a collapse, meant space for excavations would shrink the deeper the quarry went, he said.

Calvin Fisher
Calvin Fisher
The council's stance appeared to have shifted since April, when council chief executive Sue Bidrose indicated further talks were needed to clarify the quarry's existing use rights.

"The onus is on them ... to prove their existing use rights,'' she said at the time.

Since then, council staff had met representatives from SOL Group, which took over the quarry's operation in June, and taken fresh legal advice.

Dr Bidrose said the "onus'' was now on the quarry's owner to make a case for any future expansion of the quarry.

"As long as he operates within the existing interim enforcement order, then he can continue to do what he is doing.''

The outcome disappointed at least one neighbour, Colin Mackintosh.

He believed the hill was becoming a "shell'' at risk of collapse in any significant earthquake.

"I'm just extremely disappointed that the council hasn't pursued this.

"[Quarry owner] Calvin Fisher is getting away with blue murder,'' Dr Mackintosh said.

Mr Fisher insisted the ridgeline had not been touched for years, and existing use rights were disputed, so the quarry had "continued on that basis''.

"Everyone should be happy now.''

He believed the council had "worked out some of the maths'', including how much rock from the quarry was used by council contractors.

"Maybe they've worked out what it's going to cost the ratepayers if I close it down and make it private use only.''

Dr Bidrose said the council did not buy rock from the quarry directly, but some council contractors did, as the quarry remained a lawful business.

It would have been "completely inappropriate'' to tell contractors not to buy from the quarry, she said.


 

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