Hearing centres on final leg

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Leg 6 of the Lake2Lake trail offers views over Lake Manapouri to its many islands and mountains beyond.

A JOINT hearing will be held in Te Anau this week regarding two Fiordland Trails Trust resource consent applications for the near complete Lake2Lake trail.

Designed to be a total length of 28km, the trail is in its last stages of construction.

The Lake2Lake trail runs alongside Lake Te Anau and the east side of the Waiau River towards Lake Manapouri.

Made up of six ‘legs’, the hearing is focused on the sixth.

The first application is for resource consent for a period of 25 years for the diversion of surface water, the diversion of groundwater and for wetland modification associated within the installation of a third culvert.

The second is retrospective resource consent for wetland modification to enable construction of 35 metres of the trail, the placement and use of two culverts and the use of Leg 6.

There were 72 submissions received for the retrospective consent – 70 in support and two neutral.

Two submissions were received on the non-retrospective consent, one in support and one in opposition.

Prior to notification, written approval was received from Te Ao Marama Inc and a neutral written approval form was received from Fish & Game New Zealand which neither supported nor opposed the application.

An Environment Southland report by consultant consents officer Sonya Nicol detailed the application was a non-complying activity.

Council may only grant a resource consent for the activity if it is satisfied the adverse effects of the activity were minor or if the application was for an activity which would not be contrary to the objectives and policies of the relevant plan or proposed plan.

In regards to the retrospective application, she said there were two key issues the Independent Hearing Commissioner needed to consider when making a decision in terms of adverse effects on the wetland, namely hydrological effects and the direct loss of wetland vegetation.

She recommended both applications be declined.

Wildland Consultants ecologist Dr Kelvin Lloyd, who was contracted by Environment Southland, submitted evidence in relation to the retrospective application saying; “We did not support the proposed installation of a third culvert between the two existing culverts under the trail, as this would only exacerbate the adverse hydrological effects of trail construction on the wetland above the trail.”

He recommended actions which could be taken and said if they were, the residual adverse effects on the wetland would be less than minor.

Three briefs of evidence were submitted by Fiordland Trails Trust for the two applications at the hearing.

Three submitters have requested to speak to their submissions at the hearing.

Independent Commissioner Sharon McGarry will oversee the hearing which will be held tomorrow at 9.30am at Distinction Te Anau Hotel.

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