Dredge granted consent

A gold dredge on the Clutha River has been granted retrospective resource consent.

Cold Gold Clutha Ltd's dredge has been operating off and on for almost two years with consents from the Otago Regional Council, a mining permit and access agreement from Land Information New Zealand.

After a query about noise limits last year, it was discovered the dredge would also need consent from the Central Otago District Council.

At a hearing in December, Millers Flat resident and river neighbour Irene Brown said the dredge created ''intolerable'' noise, despite company-initiated noise tests returning results of 43dB, 12dB under the regional council consented limit of 55dB.

District council noise limits are also 55dB in the area.

Mrs Brown and husband Ernie had sought a reduction in consented operating hours of the dredge, or for it to be moved further from their property.

They suggested the regional council consented operating hours of 7am to 10pm, seven days a week, be restricted to 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, or that the dredge be moved 500m upstream.

Cold Gold Clutha project manager Peter Hall told the district council's hearings panel restricting operating hours was ''not practical''.

The panel's decision, released yesterday, said it appeared the company had ''taken all practicable steps, in the design and construction of the dredge, to mitigate noise effects''.

The company had also applied for the construction of temporary slipways. Under Maritime New Zealand rules, the vessel must be ''slipped'' for survey, any repairs and/or alterations. It was taken off the river near Ettrick in October 2012 for alterations.

The district council granted conditional consent for both activities. Conditions include notifying the Browns at least 30 days before the company starts working near their property, if it chooses to do so.

The council also included a review clause in its conditions which would allow it to review the consent conditions.

Other conditions were in keeping with those imposed by the regional council.

sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz

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