Environment Court rules to protect Saddle Hill

The Dunedin City Council says this groove (right) appeared in the ridgeline of Saddle Hill in...
The Dunedin City Council says this groove (right) appeared in the ridgeline of Saddle Hill in early September. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A quarry operator has been prevented from removing any more stone from the ridgeline of one of Dunedin's prominent landmarks.

Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson has made an interim enforcement order against Saddle Views Estate Ltd, after the Dunedin City Council applied to the court last week to stop immediately any quarrying on the ridgeline of Saddle Hill.

The order requires the skyline to remain unchanged until a decision is made on an earlier application to the Environment Court from council seeking a decision on what quarrying can be lawfully carried out.

The council's original application for a declaration of the company's quarrying rights - following the inability to locate copies of consents - was lodged with the Environment Court in 2011.

After various delays, it is now expected it will be heard in mid-December.

The council applied for the injunction on skyline work on November 6 after becoming concerned about a "distinctive notch" it said had appeared on the ridgeline of the hill's southern hump.

The council wants the hill's ridgeline protected as a priority, and it told the court it believed work there was outside the area where any previous quarrying rights might have existed.

It provided two affidavits to back up its application.

Contracting specialist Bob Knox said the notch in the profile of Jaffray's Hill (the southern hump) had had an adverse effect on the natural character of the feature.

Senior council planner Campbell Thomson said if no injunction was in place, he believed further quarrying was likely until the company's exact rights were determined by the court.

Saddle Views Estate Ltd's sole director is Calvin Fisher, a union official with the major shareholder, the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand.

Mr Fisher did not return calls yesterday, but the court order noted the company opposed the application.

Mr Fisher was earlier reported as saying there had been no impact on the hill's silhouette and he believed the council was being over-zealous.

City councillor Colin Weatherall, who has been closely involved in the process since the start, said the council was pleased both that the enforcement was ordered and that the hearing date had been brought forward from April next year.



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