NZSki seeks earthworks exemptions

NZSki Ltd has sought exemptions from proposed earthworks rules to allow future development as it faces legal action over claims protected wetland was destroyed by works at the Remarkables skifield.

The company made a submission to a hearing panel considering stage 2 of Queenstown Lakes District Council's proposed district plan (PDP) in Queenstown this week.

It is concerned with standards included in the proposed plan which would ''likely require resource consent in most circumstances'', as well as proposed earthworks rules that could limit its future development plans.

In his evidence to the panel on behalf of NZSki, Southern Planning Group director Sean Dent said ''there is unlikely to be any higher environmental outcome achieved'' by applying the restrictions to earthworks in ski area subzones and on public conservation land.

NZSki requested an exemption from several rules included in the proposed plan, including controls on erosion and sediment, setbacks from water bodies, deposition of materials on roads and exposing groundwater.

The company proposed it should be exempt from these rules for earthworks on Department of Conservation land, which Mr Dent told the panel included Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Treble Cone.

It also made a submission that as well as exemptions regarding work undertaken for ski area activities, it should also be exempt from restrictions concerning other commercial recreation activities.

Mr Dent said the submissions sought to reduce the need for future resource consents only where the activities ''align with the character of the receiving environment''.

Environmental campaign group 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 ski company to extend its learners slope at the Remarkables.

The works also included two surface escalators and a track to Shadow Basin being built.

Forest & Bird claimed the works led to the ''complete destruction'' of the 100sq m protected wetland, which NZSki denied.

Internal regional council reports had warned the consented project was likely to destroy the wetland.

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