Society ‘delighted’ with bridge decision

Rural outlook. . . East Gore residents David and Lynne Gray sit on the window seat in their house overlooking the Mataura River 50m away to where the Gore District Council applied for a resource consent to build a cable stay bridge. The bridge would have been built near the fence in the background but the Environment Court declined the application last Friday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Waimea Landscape Preservation Society members are in favour of an upgrade to Gore’s drinking water but not at the expense of their river view, chairman David Gray says.

Last week the Environment Court overturned the granting of resource consent to build a cable›stay bridge over the Mataura River.

Last April, independent commissioners Dean Chrystal of Christchurch, Reginald Proffit, of Gisborne and Bonnie Mager, of Invercargill, granted resource consent to the Gore District Council.

However, under a Resource Management Act provision, the Waimea Landscape Preservation Society appealed the decision and the court considered the matter in October.

Environment Court Judge Prudence Steven QC released the decision on Friday.

It was planned the $3.7 million bridge would connect the intersection of Church and Huron Sts on the river’s east bank and Surrey St on the west and carry water pipes which would link up with the East Gore water plant which was due for an upgrade.

Mr Gray said it was the adverse visual effects nine households would have experienced if the bridge had been built that was the problem.

‘‘The society is not opposed to the upgrade of Gore’s water system.’’

The bridge would have been about 50m from his house and would have interrupted what was mostly a rural outlook. ‘‘It would stuff our view — absolutely destroy it.’’ Society members were ‘‘delighted’’ with the judge’s decision, he said. ‘‘We would also like to acknowledge the tremendous support that we have received throughout the proceedings.’’

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency funding of $2.1 million had been secured towards the cost of the bridge which would have been used by pedestrians and cyclists. In her decision, Judge Steven said there were unresolved issues that had come up in both the commissioners’ hearing and the court hearing.

One of these was how well alternative sites had been assessed given consultant landscape architect Michael Pentecost had identified ‘‘significant visual effects’’ of the proposed bridge.

Under the RMA there is a requirement to consider alternative locations when ‘‘significant visual effects’’ are identified.

‘‘The lack of evidence as to the council’s consideration of alternative sites is highly problematic.’’

She declined to accept the benefits of the bridge would outweigh the negative effects on residents who lived nearby as the commissioners had done.

The council also provided little evidence of the transport and recreation benefits of the proposed bridge, Judge Steven said.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said the council was ‘‘disappointed’’.

‘‘We need to take some time to consider the decision and consult with our legal advisers as well as our partner Waka Kotahi before we make any decision.’’