Earthworks near highway remain a mystery

A large amount of earth has been moved on a property south of Waihola. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A large amount of earth has been moved on a property south of Waihola. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Only one man seems to know and he is not talking.

Mystery and rumour continue to surround significant earthworks on a private property adjoining State Highway 1 just south of Waihola.

In November, traffic was diverted on to a purpose-built new section of highway to allow an underpass to be built between two halves of a property owned by Calder Stewart director Donald Stewart.

The underpass has since been completed, paid for by Mr Stewart, and the highway restored, but traffic control measures remain in place further north on SH1, as substantial earthworks take place on land owned by the Crown.

NZTA confirmed this week, the slope cutback on this land was being paid by the adjacent landowner — Mr Stewart.

In February, the Waihola Cricket Club announced it planned to transform their current cricket ground in the town centre, by the holiday park.

It was also looking at adding new sports courts, an updated BMX pump track and landscaping with funding from "private people".

The cricket club confirmed this week the soil needed for the ground upgrade had come from Mr Stewart.

Mr Stewart did not respond to a request for comment this week and the Clutha District Council said no current or pending consents existed in relation to the property in question.

However, a council spokesman said depending on the type of land and works taking place, private individuals could carry out a wide range of earthworks on their land without the need for consents.

The Otago Daily Times contacted Waihola residents and businesses this week but no-one seemed to be able to nail down what was happening.

Mr Stewart is believed to be building a sizable house back from the lake and SH1 — as anyone can see — has moved a large chunk of earth. There has also been a significant amount of earth moved from flat land near the lake.

That had led to speculation he was clearing dirt for a cricket ground and other sports on this piece of land.

A neighbour of the land believed the ground would be a cricket oval and that suggestion had already been mentioned on websites.

But the earth may simply have been stripped to take to the already announced cricket ground development and the land may just remain bare.

Waihola Cricket Club president Craig Gordon said he knew nothing about what was planned for Mr Stewart’s land.

Members of the Waihola Looking Forward group also drew a blank when asked about the development.

Mr Stewart remains the man in the know and he is keeping it to himself. — Additional reporting Steve Hepburn