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The Department of Conservation is saying little about a site that has been purchased by New Zealand’s largest manufacturer of ready-mixed concrete beside a reserve with rare native plants near Cromwell.
The 9.8ha site was bought by Cromwell Certified Concrete Ltd and is along SH8, the Cromwell-Luggate road.
It is beside the Mahaka Katia Scientific Reserve on the Pisa Flats.
Cromwell Certified Concrete owns Amisfield Quarry, directly southwest of the new site.
It is a joint venture company between Fletcher Building’s Firth and New Zealand business McNulty’s Investment.
The department’s Central Otago operations manager, Mike Tubbs, did not answer a question from the Otago Daily Times on whether the land purchase by a quarry company was a concern for the department.
He said the reserve was a dryland ecosystem which supported a range of threatened plant species, many of them endemic to the reserve.
Mr Tubbs said the Amisfield Quarry did not affect the plants in the reserve but did not say whether a quarry directly beside the reserve would affect it.
The purchase had to be approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) because of the substantial foreign investment in Fletcher Building.
The application comes before tougher Government requirements on land sales to foreign buyers.
Mr Tubbs said the department was not consulted on the OIO process. He said the decision to consult parties about the sale sat with Linz.
He also said the department was unaware of any land use consents for a new quarry beside the reserve.He did not say whether the department was aware of the purchase before the Otago Daily Times contacted him.
Cromwell Certified Concrete applied to buy the land from Jeremy Patrick Mackie and Jennenne Louise Mackie for $862,500, an OIO decision sheet said.
Central Otago District Council planning and team leader Ann Rodgers said Cromwell Certified Concrete became the registered landowner on November 27 last year, just over a week after the OIO granted the purchase consent.
Ms Rodgers said the company would have to apply for a resource consent from the council to operate a quarry on the land. After the company had made an application, the council would make a decision on whether there would be a hearing and if it was significant enough for the public to be notified.
The News previously reported the Mahaka Katia reserve is home to the nationally endangered plant species Lepidium solandri. The population of the species would need to be protected to ensure its survival.
George Affleck , who lives in a property northwest of the reserve, said she did not spend much time in the reserve but was "concerned" about the dust the quarry could create.
Pisa Range Estate owner Warwick Hawker has a winery across the road from a quarry south of Amisfield Quarry along the Cromwell-Luggate road.He said owning a vineyard beside a quarry was a "mixed blessing".
"We need quarries for shingle ... but it’s not necessarily a wonderful thing [because] of dust and ash."