Saddle Hill quarry decision delay explained

A judge trying to decide for more than five months what legal basis exists for quarrying on Saddle Hill has explained why it is taking so long to work out.

A May 29 minute from Environment Court judge Jon Jackson said the long history of the matter required extra analysis, which would delay the court's decision until at least the end of July.

Public disquiet and agitation over quarrying on the hill have continued for more than 50 years and last year the Dunedin City Council successfully sought an injunction halting quarrying on the hill's ridge line while it sought a declaration from the Environment Court on the legal rights of Saddle Views Estate Ltd to quarry.

The council believes no resource consent for the quarrying activity exists.

The company says it has historic existing-use rights from a resource consent issued about 1960.

The council also wants restrictions put in place safeguarding the hill's ridge line and limiting quarrying on the hill to an agreed footprint.

Saddle Hill is listed as a landscape conservation area in Dunedin's district plan, and the council says its distinctive humps are a significant Dunedin landmark much valued by the community and should be protected.

After a December hearing in Dunedin it was widely expected a decision would be out in March.

Judge Jackson's minute to the involved parties said the facts surrounding quarrying on Saddle Hill had been obscured by time, particularly some of the critical events in relation to the claimed existing use rights, which dated back to the 1950s.

There had also been various attempts outside the courts to work out the legal position, but none had been definitive, he said.

''Accordingly, the court needs to take time [amid all its other work] to analyse the historical evidence.''

He was hopeful, but could not guarantee, a decision would be issued by the end next month.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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