Riverside householder raises jet-boat concerns

A Kawarau Jet boat passes Kawarau River resident Jo Boyd's property. Ms Boyd says there are...
A Kawarau Jet boat passes Kawarau River resident Jo Boyd's property. Ms Boyd says there are already 20 boats plying the river and a proposed operation by Ecojet would add another four. Photo supplied.

Ecojet's plans for a new Queenstown jet-boating and water-taxi service have been questioned by Jo Boyd, a fourth-generation resident of the lower Kawarau River concerned about the proposal's environmental impact.

Jo Boyd
Jo Boyd
On Monday, Lakes Environmental formally received an application from long-serving former Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive and Ecojet director Duncan Field to operate four boats across a network of water taxi drop-off and pick-up points, including the Remarkables Park retail complex.

The company had already secured two berths and a kiosk at Queenstown Wharf and was backed by partners Queenstown developer Alistair Hey and Christchurch biochemist Nick McMillan.

Ms Boyd and her partner run a tree nursery at the property, situated between the Frankton bridge and the confluence of the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers. She said the Queenstown Lakes District Council needed to be more vigilant about operator's claims of minimal environmental impact.

"The Resource Management Act is designed - among other things - to specifically protect the environment.

"Evidence submitted during the previous resource consent application by Queenstown Water Taxis (Thunder Jet) strongly suggests there has been much damage from this type of activity in the past.

"The hearing panel chose to ignore this evidence on that occasion.

"This application, just as the one before it, simply says there is no impact environmentally and QLDC must take their word for it.

"Once again, will the wool be pulled over QLDCs eyes?

"Ecojet's mantra basically says it's only four more jet-boats. There are already about 20 boats consented to commercially work the Kawarau River.

There are currently no restrictions for commercial boat numbers in local legislation apart from safety and environmental issues."

Ms Boyd also questioned why "ordinary, hard-working citizens must pay high fees to experts and consultants to prove that activities such as this proposal were detrimental environmentally when it really should be the applicant - who I might say has the potential to make very big money - who pays independent experts to prove that it isn't?"

She said Ecojet was asking for a non-complying activity to be non-notified and operate "way outside the allowable operational hours"

Ecojet sent the application out on an informal basis to those it considered affected.

"We have not received this nor have our other neighbours who live on the riverbank. It would be appropriate if QLDC were to require this application to be notified."

Lakes Environmental is assessing effects on people and the environment to see if public notification is necessary.

- matt.stewart@odt.co.nz


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