Mixed response to trail consent

The partial consent of the Around the Mountain Cycle Trail in Southland has received praise and criticism.

The $11 million, 140km cycle trail, proposed by the Southland District Council last year, would have run from Walter Peak, past the Mavora Lakes to Lumsden, and followed State Highway 6 to Kingston.

However, a 28km stretch between the Mount Nicholas Rd bridge to the proposed Oreti suspension bridge, was declined consent by independent hearing commissioner Denis Nugent, of Wanaka.

He believed significant adverse effects on the environment would, or could, occur in the section through the Eyre Mountains.

The declined section prohibits any proposed structures, earthworks or gravel extraction sites.

The trail attracted more than 200 submissions, about half of which were in opposition, and was the subject of a four-day hearing in April.

Southland District councillor John Douglas, of the Five Rivers ward, was yesterday disappointed by the exclusion.

"This trail is a fantastic project and will do so much for all the small communities along it. The environmental impact is minimal, but that is taking precedence over the social good."

Southland Fish and Game was "delighted" by what it called a "common-sense decision".

Operations manager Zane Moss said it would be "widely celebrated by anglers and those concerned about the development of the region's finite wilderness areas".

Mr Moss believed the trail through the Eyre Mountains would also have threatened the amenity values of the internationally renowned fishery.

In his 126-page ruling, Mr Nugent concluded the Mararoa Valley alternative was viable and had the additional benefit of not risking the existing economic input of trout fishing tourism.

- ellie.constantine@odt.co.nz


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