Helipad solution may lie in transfer of land

A patch of land next to the Kurow Medical Centre may yet be converted into a helicopter pad for emergencies in the Waitaki Valley.

In June the Waitaki District Council approached the Department of Conservation to determine if the land, managed by Land Information New Zealand (Linz), could be retained as a reserve for use as a helipad adjoining the medical centre.

Department of Conservation senior statutory land management adviser Steve Sharman said at the time it was not in a position to make any kind of arrangement with the council, but he had since been working with Linz to make the grassed area available.

"We advised the council that the land wasn’t managed by Doc but suggested we could facilitate a transfer to the council as a reserve. We saw this as an opportunity to help out the local community by working with Linz to find a solution to the community’s need for a helipad.

"Doc is in discussions with Linz about the potential transfer ... on the understanding it would become a reserve and be vested in the Waitaki District Council."

Kurow medical Centre practice manager Juliet Gardner could not be contacted for comment by the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

Mr Sharman’s comments came after Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said in a media release earlier she had also become involved in the issue at the request of the Kurow Medical Board and passed on her concerns to Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

"The Kurow Medical Board haven’t been able to move forward with the project after discovering the tiny section of land they wanted to build the pad on was owned by the Department of Conservation who wanted to charge a whopping $77,000 (the market rate) for the area.

"Patients are currently transported around the road to the rugby fields, where they’re loaded on to the rescue helicopter. Board members say having the helipad right outside the door would mean significantly less trauma for those needing urgent care."

She said the solution preferred by Mr Sharman was "an option" and she "hopes a solution can now be reached which the community will benefit from".

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher agreed.

"I think it’s a necessary piece of infrastructure for that community to have somewhere for helicopters to land and beside the medical centre makes a lot of sense."



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