Trail protest tent removed

A protest tent blocking the Roxburgh Gorge cycle trail was removed yesterday as negotiations about the track's future route continue.

A "constructive" meeting was held between members of the Roxburgh Gorge Cycle Trail Trust and land-owning protesters yesterday, but a second meeting, scheduled for early next week, is shaping up as critical.

That will be between landowners, including Bruce and Leigh Johnston, and the trust.

"We have removed the tent and given them [the contractors] permission to tidy that area up, but they are not to go any further until we are happy with the outcome of the meeting," Mr Johnston said.

Trail trust member Malcolm Macpherson said of the meeting: "We all agreed that it was good and constructive".

"John Sutton [construction contractors] is looking at some slight changes of alignment tomorrow [today] and we are hoping to meet early next week.

"It's progress."

He said some of the slight changes might include crossing the Johnstons' land and that would "potentially be good for both parties".

However, construction could continue across the marginal strip as consented.

The protest tent was set up by the Johnstons on Wednesday on a marginal strip in front of their land, about 1.5km from the Alexandra end of the 34km cycle trail after they realised construction work was damaging their land.

They had said they planned to stay there until they got answers from the trust.

Later in the day, they were joined by Malcolm McGregor, another landowner along the trail's route.

The Johnstons said they had previously asked the trust to supply a plan detailing how it would build the trail around their land, as they believed it to be risky, but had only received a reply via the trust's lawyer to say the trust and contractors believed it could be done.

That, combined with recent blasting that had undermined their land, had spurred them to set up the tent, they said.



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