Saddle Hill petition presented

Another chapter in the saga of Saddle Hill's protection from quarrying was written this week, with the presentation of a 3500-signature petition to the Dunedin City Council.

The petition, started by Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran last December, was presented to Mayor Dave Cull on Thursday.

It called for the DCC to: ''Appeal to the Environment Court for an immediate Stop Work Order on the quarrying of Saddle Hill'', and to ''work alongside the Saddle Hill community to initiate discussions on the future protection and ownership of Saddle Hill as a unique landmark''.

Ms Curran said about half the submitters had filled out the forms online, and the other half had been found at fairs, businesses, schools and community groups.

She said respondents represented a ''wide cross-section of people'', and included many people who ''normally wouldn't come near the Labour Party''.

''Farmers, real salt-of-the-earth people from around the area, older people, people who care about the cultural heritage of the landmark. We had people lining up to sign.''

Ms Curran said she acknowledged people made a living from the quarrying, ''but at times you have make a call around the greater community interest''.

''It seems it's got to a point that if there's more quarrying we're going to lose that saddle.''

Ms Curran said Saddle Hill's appearance, along with that of Flagstaff, Mt Cargill, and Harbour Cone, were deeply important to Dunedin people.

''Those are our landmarks. They give us our identity.''

The future of quarrying on Saddle Hill has been uncertain since the DCC went to the Environment Court in 2011 to determine whether quarry owner Saddle View Estates Ltd (SVE) had existing-use rights and resource consent.

The Environment Court found no record of either, and called on the DCC and SVE director Calvin Fisher to enter mediation.

Mediation failed, and Mr Fisher appealed the Environment Court decision in the High Court.

In 2014, the High Court overturned the Environment Court decision and ordered another mediation process to take place.

Mr Fisher could not be reached for comment last night.

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