General support for NZSki chairlift and trails proposal

The Remarkables skifield near Queenstown. The Sugar Bowl lift is shown climbing the mountain on...
The Remarkables skifield near Queenstown. The Sugar Bowl lift is shown climbing the mountain on the right. Photo: Joshua Walton
The majority of submissions on NZSki's application to the Department of Conservation (Doc) to build a replacement chairlift and trails at the Remarkables ski area are in support.

Twenty of the 25 submissions back the proposal, but conservation watchdog Forest & Bird and one of New Zealand's most eminent botanists are opposed.

Skifield owner NZSki needs a Doc concession to upgrade the Sugar Bowl chairlift, in the Rastus Burn Recreation Reserve, from a four-seater to a six-seater, and create three new trails.

Kelvin Heights resident Peter Willsman said he supported the proposal because NZSki had a track record of ''taking care not to inflict permanent damage and visual scarring''.

Nils Coberger, of Queenstown, said it was vital for the ski industry to ''keep pace with world standards'' in its lifts and infrastructure.

Federated Mountain Clubs president Peter Wilson said it was not opposed, but asked that NZSki be required to keep the skifield's road open at all times during construction.

In the Forest & Bird submission, its Otago-Southland regional manager Sue Maturin said the proposal would have a ''cumulative impact'' on top of the extensive areas of already disturbed ecosystems, and its effects would be more than minor.

The application's ecological assessment, prepared by consultants E3Scientific, was ''inadequate''.

It was also concerned ''creeping development'' over the years made it difficult to manage ecological impacts, and created a ''situation where one development necessitates another''.

Forest & Bird is taking NZSki and the Otago Regional Council (ORC) to court over the regional council granting a non-notified land use consent earlier this year to the company to extend its learners slope at the Remarkables.

It claims the work led to the destruction of a 100sqm protected wetland.

A date for the court hearing has yet to be set.

University of Otago Emeritus Prof Sir Alan Mark said the visual and ecological impacts caused by forming new trails would be ''highly detrimental'', and transplanting many alpine species was fraught with difficulty.

NZSki also needs a resource consent from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and a consent from the ORC.

- A public hearing on the application will be held at the Doc Queenstown office this Friday from 9am to 12.30pm.

Comments

What is important here is the process of non-notification rather than the outcome of the ORC decision.
Should all parties have the ability to make submissions or should it remain between the ORC and applicant purely?

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