Cycle trail 'Benefit to communities'

The Roxburgh Gorge cycle trail is a few wheel-tracks closer to becoming a reality now land-use resource consents have been granted.

The Central Otago District Council had applied to itself for consent for works and structures associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of the trail, on behalf of a newly-formed trust, which will run the trail.

Independent commissioner Denis Nugent, of Wanaka, heard the application early last month and granted consent, subject to 21 conditions.

Approved for $2 million in government funding as part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project, the 34km Roxburgh Gorge track will extend from Alexandra to the Roxburgh dam, on the state highway side of Lake Roxburgh.

Consent was sought for various structures, including three bridges, culverts, public toilets, information kiosks and signs, guard rails, cattle-stops and safety fences.

Six submissions were received, with no opposition.

" ... with no submitter opposing the application, the matters under contention really related to conditions that might be imposed," Mr Nugent said in his decision.

"The creation of another trail traversing a different type of environment from that traversed by the Otago Central Rail Trail would broaden the opportunities for tourists visiting the area. This would be of potential economic benefit to the communities at either end of the trail."

Alexandra resident John Douglas and Otago Fish and Game had suggested additional connections from the trail to increase accessibility to both State Highway 8 and the lake, but that was not a matter for him to consider, as it did not form part of the application.

"While the provision of such additional tracks may be worthy of consideration, it is a matter for the submitters to take up with the trust directly," he said.

In his view, most of the trail was within an outstanding natural landscape. The imprint of the trail would be low and it would blend in with water races and old roads along the way.

One of the conditions imposed was for the trail to avoid adverse effects on the heritage values of the area. Opening up the gorge to walkers and cyclists would enable the public to appreciate those historic sites, he said.

The conditions he imposed included restrictions on the hours construction work could be carried out, the design and colours of information kiosks and toilets, the content of signs and the final alignment of the trail.

Consent is still needed from the Otago Regional Council to build the bridges at Butchers Creek, Gorge Creek and Shingle Creek. The trail trust must also negotiate easements for the 11 private properties, and Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand and Contact property the trail will go through.

The Roxburgh Gorge Trail will link to the proposed Clutha Gold trail, which will extend from Roxburgh to Lawrence.



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