Residents want landmark protected

Captain Cook remarked on the unique shape of Saddle Hill more than 200 years ago, and now Taieri residents want to ensure the landmark is recognisable to future generations.

At a meeting of the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board on Wednesday Saddle Hill property owner Colin Mackintosh and Mosgiel resident Fay Mitchell asked the board to approach the Dunedin City Council about measures to protect the shape of the landmark hill against quarrying activity.

Dr Mackintosh yesterday told the Otago Daily Times residents would like council to implement "pre-emptive" measures, such as a monitoring scheme, to ensure Saddle Hill's "existing shape and outline was protected . . . to ensure it did not deteriorate further and that the district plan is adhered to".

"In the last 40 or 50 years it has suffered a lot, and we don't want a return to that," Dr Mackintosh said.

He believed the area fell under land identified in section 14.5 of the council's district as "landscape conservation areas".

Although owners had pre-existing rights to extract resources, restrictions could be imposed to limit activities such as quarrying which posed "threats to visual quality" caused by removal of "significant landform features", he said.

"Delta is owned by the DCC, and we want to ensure companies are operating within their own codes. We'd like to see the DCC take a proactive role in ensuring Delta don't alter the profile."

He had spoken to Delta, which described the rock extracted from Saddle Hill as a mixture of "good basalt on a par with Blackhead, mixed with less valuable rock which was of a higher quality than river gravel".

Saddle View Estate director and quarry owner Calvin Fisher said the quarry was leased to Delta.

"We are mindful of the situation and have exercised strenuous due diligence and will continue to mine in a constructive manner.

The activities are nowhere near changing the skyline and [the] skyline has not changed for some considerable time.

It's a serious commercial operation and the insinuation is we are being reckless for the sake of reckless.

Delta is not going to jeopardise its professionalism," he said.

Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Barry Barbour said concerns would be taken to the appropriate council authorities, and the board would report to the residents.

Quarrying on Saddle Hill had been an ongoing "bone of contention," for some Taieri residents when rock was used in large scale developments, as happened when Downer used materials from the area during the construction of Dunedin airport, he said.

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