Otago Daily Times Releases

Threat to mine all of Jaffray's Hill alleged

Threat to mine all of Jaffray's Hill alleged

Market forces drive use of quarry

Market forces drive use of quarry

By David Loughrey on Thu, 5 Jun 2014
News: Dunedin

The New Zealand Transport Agency says value for money is its overriding concern when sourcing roading materials.

That means a Saddle Hill Community Board call to stop using material from the Saddle Hill quarry is unlikely to be followed by action.

Community board chairman Scott Weatherall called on the Dunedin City Council recently to stop buying metal from the quarry to help prevent further damage to what he called a ''landmark'' site.

Mr Weatherall made the suggestion as part of the board's submission to the council's 2014-15 draft annual plan, where he asked the council to ''stop all quarrying'' at the site. Quarrying on Saddle Hill has been an issue since the removal of material began in the 1950s.

The issue is before the Environment Court, which has ruled no consent exists to quarry the hill, after the council sought clarity on the issue.

Quarry operator Saddle Views Estate has appealed that decision to the High Court, an issue which will be heard next month.

The council has said it does not buy material from the quarry, although it does have ''numerous roading contracts with various contractors'', some of whom choose to use material from the quarry.

Infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery said last month the council had no ability under New Zealand Transport Agency rules to restrict where contractors got their materials, as long as they met relevant technical standards and come from a legal source, which the Saddle Hill quarry was.

Questioned on its stance, New Zealand Transport Agency southern agency planning and investment manager Ian McCabe said any concern arising from a local authority requesting or stipulating a certain provider not be used would centre around whether or not it demonstrated, in making that call, it had adhered to ''the principle of achieving the best value for money for the investment''.

''We expect local authorities to obtain aggregate that meets the appropriate specification from the source closest to where the work is being carried out.''

The agency would be concerned if additional costs arose from a council stipulating this could not happen for reasons other than the source being unable to provide aggregate that met the appropriate specifications, or because the contractor was able to make additional savings from sourcing it elsewhere.

The agency had used aggregate from the quarry, most recently in the Caversham Valley improvements project.

It sourced the material ''based on the specifications for any given project''.

Mr Weatherall said yesterday he acknowledged the issue was ''on hold'' until the court hearing next month, and that the council was locked into some contracts.

But after the court process, the community board ''would like to see all quarrying stop on Saddle Hill'', he said.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/304810/market-forces-drive-use-quarry

Call for end to quarrying

Call for end to quarrying

By Vaughan Elder on Thu, 8 May 2014

The council should stop buying metal from Saddle Hill quarry to help prevent further damage to the ''landmark'' site, Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall says.

Mr Weatherall made the suggestion as part of the board's submission to the council's 2014-15 draft annual plan yesterday, where he asked the council to ''stop all quarrying'' at the site.

''Let's not do any more damage than what has already been done,'' he said.

He would be ''disappointed to hear'' the council was using metal from the quarry, while questioning the legality of the quarry's consent in the Environment Court.

Cr Lee Vandervis said the council had used ''a lot'' of metal from the quarry, including as part of the State Highway 88 bypass, and asked if it should buy from elsewhere, even if Saddle Hill quarry was ''considerably cheaper''.

Cr Hilary Calvert said if the quarry was shut down completely there was a risk of there being a monopoly, which could result in the price of metal becoming ''a lot more expensive''.

She asked if the board could ''live with it'', if the quarry continued to operate in a way which did not affect the hill's skyline.

The board's deputy chairwoman Pam Jennett replied it was ''concerned about the loss of a landmark''.

''It's kind of like mining in a national park. It's emotional for people in the city area, as well as for our community board,'' Ms Jennett said.

Mr Weatherall was also concerned about a lack of council oversight of the trial of its freedom camping policy at Ocean View Recreation Reserve.

The trial, which allowed for a maximum of five camper vans at the site, had been ''too successful'', and up to 20 camper vans were at the site on any given night.

The majority of residents were ''really supportive'' of the trial, but the council had to ''put the resources in'' when it came to monitoring the sites.

Up until now it had been a case of putting the signs up and ''that's it'' and it had been left up to the board to consult residents about the trial.

Cr Vandervis asked if the community would be open to increasing the number of freedom campers allowed at the site.

Mr Weatherall said it would be open to increasing both the number allowed at the site and the number of sites in the area, but there would have to be consultation with residents first.

Ms Jennett and Mr Weatherall also raised the need for funding for extra footpaths and sealing roads in the board's area.

Mr Weatherall also said better management was needed for Brighton Domain, which was unusable for large parts of the winter.

''We are not doing something [right] because that water continues to pool and that ground continues to be in unplayable condition.''

Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather's submission emphasised the importance of the council allocating $30,000 seed funding for a new Mosgiel pool.

The Taieri Community Facilities Trust, which will use the money to investigate options for a new pool, was a ''very able body''.

Mr Feather also called on the council to speed up its project to widen Riccarton Rd.

Chalmers Community Board chairman Steve Walker said the community wanted the trial of a 30kmh speed limit on George St to be made permanent.

The issue attracted the most interest at the board's recent annual plan and residents were under the impression it would permanent.

The community was keen for the completion of the West Harbour shared walkway from Maia to Port Chalmers.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/301497/call-end-quarrying

Council satisfied Saddle Hill profile is unchanged

Council satisfied Saddle Hill profile is unchanged

By Debbie Porteous on Sat, 15 Mar 2014
News: Dunedin | Saddle Hill


Changing? A view of the ridge line of Saddle Hill taken from Law Rd on October 23 last year...

 

 

... and on February 20 this year. Photos by the DCC.

Concerns the ridge line of Saddle Hill's smaller hump is continuing to change are not shared by the director of the company quarrying the hill and the Dunedin City Council.

Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather raised the matter at this week's board meeting.

''Looking from the corner of Montrose and Larnach Sts (in Mosgiel), it was apparent to me the front edge of the rim is diminishing at a fast rate.''

He said he spoke to the council and was assured staff were monitoring an area of Jaffrays Hill the court ruled could not be quarried, by taking photos from the same three spots once a week.

However, he did not believe the points staff took the photos from were all encompassing.

''They certainly monitor the peak, but when it comes to the edges of the quarry I don't know that they entirely reflect the changes we see from Mosgiel.''

His concerns follow similar ones from Saddle Hill Community Board members who recently said they believed the hill's ridge line was changing from their perspective, despite a November 9, 2012, interim enforcement order from the Environment Court.

The order requires quarry operator Saddle Views Estate Ltd to stop earthworks outside a specific area, identified in the order, on the hill until a decision is made on an application to the court from the council seeking a direction on what quarrying can be lawfully carried out on the hill, which is a landmark of the area.

The court has already declared no consent to quarry the hill exists, or ever did, and says it is not satisfied, at this stage, that there are any existing use rights for quarrying on Saddle Hill, but has asked for more information before making a decision.

Saddle Views Estate, which has been quarrying the site, has appealed the decision that no consent exists for the activity. An appeal hearing is expected in July.

Council resource consent manager Alan Worthington said the council was satisfied from its monitoring that the profile of the hill outside the allowed quarry area had not changed.

It could be that from different perspectives, certain angles and in certain light the skyline area might appear different, but the council would speak to Mr Feather and another Mosgiel resident who had also contacted the council, to be sure it was clear what parts of the hill they were specifically concerned about.

Staff had been taking the photos since late last year, following community concerns.

They had also been taking photos from several other positions less frequently.

Saddle Views Estate director Calvin Fisher said he understood there was much emotion about the hill, but the company had not touched the restricted ridge line area since the order was put in place, and it would not be in its interest to do so.

''We are conscious of our upcoming court case and we are not about to jeopardise that.''

He said the very top of the hill, some of which was constructed of fill following earlier quarrying efforts, had been eroding naturally for many years.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/295179/council-satisfied-saddle-hill-profile-unchanged

Quarry no-consent ruling appealed

Quarry no-consent ruling appealed

By Debbie Porteous on Wed, 25 Sep 2013
News: Dunedin

Calvin Fisher.

 

A Dunedin business quarrying on Saddle Hill has appealed the Environment Court's decision that no consent exists for the activity.

The Environment Court ruled in August that no resource consent existed, or ever existed, for the hill to be quarried.

It is expected to decide soon whether that means quarry owner Saddle Views Estate Ltd has existing use rights to quarry the hill and, if so, the level of those rights.

Company director Calvin Fisher said it would have been preferable to have both decisions before appealing, but time limits required the appeal be lodged. The appeal was based on points of law and opinion, he said.

''The evidence we produced was factual, hard-hitting and accurate, and was written by people right up to the minister of the Crown, and we believe the result requires us to go to the High Court to argue it out.''

The court stopped the company from quarrying the ridge line last November after the council applied for an injunction until a decision was made on the consent and use rights.

Dunedin City Council hearings panel committee chairman Cr Colin Weatherall said there was relief in August when the court made the key decision, that no consent existed, in a long-running dispute. But an appeal was ''not unexpected'' and the council would participate in the process to follow.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/274537/quarry-no-consent-ruling-appealed

Quarry injunction may be considered

Quarry injunction may be considered

By Chris Morris on Sat, 24 Aug 2013
News: Dunedin | DCC

Colin Weatherall

 

The man behind the Saddle Hill quarry plans to take his fight to the High Court, but has criticised the Dunedin City Council for putting jobs on the line.

Calvin Fisher, the director of Saddle Views Estate Ltd, said yesterday he was ''disappointed'' by this week's Environment Court ruling, which found there was no consent for the quarry on the prominent landmark.

He planned to take legal advice next week, but expected an appeal would follow.

''We're quite firm with our evidence. We think the weight of our evidence certainly will be worthy of an appeal.''

His comments came after the court this week ruled ''on the balance of probability'' no resource consent had ever existed for the quarry.

The court was yet to decide if the quarry had existing use rights and, if so, the level of those rights.

A decision on that could see the quarry ordered to cease operations, if the court ruled there were existing use rights that had been exceeded, it was reported yesterday.

The quarry had been operating under restrictions that prevented damage to the ridgeline since last November, but Mr Fisher yesterday vowed it would remain ''business as usual''.

''The quarry has been a quarry for 100 years and it will continue to be a quarry.''

However, he criticised the council's stance, saying the future of eight jobs at the quarry was ''on the line''.

''I'm concerned about keeping people's jobs, which was something the council was beeping on about when hundreds and hundreds of jobs have been lost.''

Cr Colin Weatherall said yesterday the council remained impartial, but had an enforcement process to follow and would accept the court's decisions.

However, the second part of the Environment Court ruling - due next week - would be enforced until any appeals could be heard, Cr Weatherall said.

That meant restrictions protecting the ridgeline would continue, but an injunction or other enforcement action could be considered, if needed, to prevent damage to the ridgeline, he said.

''If we suspect they're exceeding ...and they continue to take out large volumes, which were in breach of the Environment Court, of course we'd have to consider the position.''

Council services and development general manager Sue Bidrose said the existing position meant the ridgeline was protected.

If next week's decision on existing use rights also went against Mr Fisher, and appeals followed, ''then there will be a decision about continuing the existing arrangements''.

''If the decision says he can't affect the ridgeline, and he appeals the decision, we will certainly look at putting measures in place to legally protect the ridgeline.''

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/270168/quarry-injunction-may-be-considered


No consent exists for quarrying Saddle Hill

No consent exists for quarrying Saddle Hill

Fri, 23 Aug 2013
News: Dunedin | DCC | Saddle Hill

A long battle to save the ridge-line of Saddle Hill has moved closer to a conclusion with the ruling that the company quarrying the prominent landmark hasn't got consent.

The Environment Court ruled yesterday that no resource consent exists, or ever existed, for the hill to be quarried.

It will decide ''soon'' whether that means quarry owner Saddle Views Estate Ltd has existing use rights to quarry the hill and, if so, the level of those rights.

The Dunedin City Council has already told the court that if it decides there are existing use rights, they should be at a level the council says the company has already exceeded.

The would mean quarrying on the hill would cease either way.

Saddle Views Estate Ltd director Calvin Fisher said last night he had not yet seen the decision and would be viewing it with his legal team over the next few days.

He said he was shocked to hear the Dunedin City Council was ''so pleased with themselves'', as he had thought the council was neutral on the issue.

''It won't be closed. It's not the end, only the beginning.''

The council last year sought a declaration from the court over the consent's existence, following concerns the ridgeline of the landmark Dunedin hill was being destroyed by the quarrying operation.

All work on the ridgeline was stopped last November, while a decision was made.

Saddle Views Estate Ltd argued at a hearing before Environment Judge Jon Jackson and commissioners John Mills and Owen Borlase in Dunedin in December that it had historic existing-use rights from a resource consent issued about 1960, although it had provided no copy of the consent.

The court's decision has taken nine months, and involved much research and analysis of historical evidence, which Judge Jackson acknowledged earlier this year was contributing to the length of time it was taking to make a decision.

The council yesterday said it was relieved about the decision and happy an end to the matter was in sight.

It had consistently held the position that no resource consent existed, general manager of services and development Sue Bidrose said.

''The iconic nature of the hill made it inconceivable that such a consent would ever have been granted.''

It was great the council and the quarry owners would soon know what could and could not be done in the quarry.

Hearings panel committee chairman Colin Weatherall said it was a key decision in a long-running dispute.

''It's been a long road, but it's a relief the court agrees with us,'' Cr Weatherall said of the news that came in the last five minutes of his final Saddle Hill Community Board meeting yesterday.

Cr Weatherall has retired from the community board, and will retire from all local body politics at the October election, after nearly 40 years representing the Saddle Hill area.

He said it would be interesting to see whether the court decided there was any existing rights use, given no consent existed.

But if it did find that, the onus would be on the quarry operators to prove their levels of activity could be sustained over the years.

There was always potential for an appeal, but given the detail of the judges' decision and their expertise, he was ''fairly confident'' their decision would hold.

''The best news is this should protect the historic Saddle Hill ridge line for future generations.''

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/270014/no-consent-exists-quarrying-saddle-hill

Environment Court rules to protect Saddle Hill

Environment Court rules to protect Saddle Hill

By Debbie Porteous on Fri, 16 Nov 2012
News: Dunedin | Saddle Hill


The Dunedin City Council says this groove (right) appeared in the ridgeline of Saddle Hill in early September. Photo by Craig Baxter.


A quarry operator has been prevented from removing any more stone from the ridgeline of one of Dunedin's prominent landmarks.

Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson has made an interim enforcement order against Saddle Views Estate Ltd, after the Dunedin City Council applied to the court last week to stop immediately any quarrying on the ridgeline of Saddle Hill.

The order requires the skyline to remain unchanged until a decision is made on an earlier application to the Environment Court from council seeking a decision on what quarrying can be lawfully carried out.

The council's original application for a declaration of the company's quarrying rights - following the inability to locate copies of consents - was lodged with the Environment Court in 2011.

After various delays, it is now expected it will be heard in mid-December.

The council applied for the injunction on skyline work on November 6 after becoming concerned about a "distinctive notch" it said had appeared on the ridgeline of the hill's southern hump.

The council wants the hill's ridgeline protected as a priority, and it told the court it believed work there was outside the area where any previous quarrying rights might have existed.

It provided two affidavits to back up its application.

Contracting specialist Bob Knox said the notch in the profile of Jaffray's Hill (the southern hump) had had an adverse effect on the natural character of the feature.

Senior council planner Campbell Thomson said if no injunction was in place, he believed further quarrying was likely until the company's exact rights were determined by the court.

Saddle Views Estate Ltd's sole director is Calvin Fisher, a union official with the major shareholder, the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand.

Mr Fisher did not return calls yesterday, but the court order noted the company opposed the application.

Mr Fisher was earlier reported as saying there had been no impact on the hill's silhouette and he believed the council was being over-zealous.

City councillor Colin Weatherall, who has been closely involved in the process since the start, said the council was pleased both that the enforcement was ordered and that the hearing date had been brought forward from April next year.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/235066/environment-court-rules-protect-saddle-hill

Quarrying ordered stopped on Saddle Hill ridge line

Quarrying ordered stopped on Saddle Hill ridge line

By Debbie Porteous on Thu, 15 Nov 2012
News: Dunedin

The Environment Court has granted an injunction to stop quarrying on the ridge line of the Saddle Hill quarry.

The order requires the skyline to remain unchanged until a decision is made on an earlier application to the court from the Dunedin City Council seeking a decision on what quarrying can be lawfully carried out.

The DCC's application for a declaration from the Environment Court was lodged in 2011. While it has been subject to delays it is now expected the Environment Court will hear the application in mid-December.

The council applied for the interim enforcement order earlier this month to prevent any quarrying that affects the skyline.

Council staff began investigating the quarrying activities in 2010. Following mediation, the DCC went to the Environment Court to determine the legal rights of quarry owners Saddle Views Estate Ltd to continue quarrying on Saddle Hill.

In September 2012 the council was notified that quarrying had occurred that affected the skyline, and the injunction application was lodged on November 6.

Judge Jon Jackson made the interim enforcement order on November 9.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/234928/quarrying-ordered-stopped-saddle-hill-ridge-line

Saddle Hill dates set

Saddle Hill dates set

By David Loughrey on Wed, 15 Feb 2012
News: Dunedin

Initial dates have been set for the preparation of evidence for an Environment Court hearing that will test quarrying rights on Dunedin's Saddle Hill.

In December, it emerged the future of the controversial quarrying operation would be decided by the court, after the council announced mediation with quarry owners Saddle Views Estate Ltd had failed.

The council had decided to reactivate a court process to determine the legal rights of land owners to continue quarrying.

Council staff started investigating quarrying activities in 2010, and the company was asked to provide evidence to support claims it could continue quarrying in the protected landscape conservation area. Mediation followed, but that ended with this week's announcement.

Council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said yesterday a hearing date had yet to be set by the court.The quarry owners had until February 29 to prepare their evidence, and the council then had until March 16 to provide rebuttal evidence.

www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/197798/saddle-hill-dates-set

Saddle Hill quarry rhetoric heats up

Saddle Hill quarry rhetoric heats up

The company behind the controversial Saddle Hill quarry says it wants Environment Court confirmation the hill "can be quarried without restriction".

And company director Calvin Fisher yesterday said the question of the quarry "has always been whether the community valued the skyline sufficiently to compensate the owner for surrendering its rights".

Saddle Views Estate Ltd is about to head to the Environment Court, after the Dunedin City Council announced mediation with the company had failed, and the council had decided to reactivate a court process to decide the legal right of owners to continue quarrying on the site.

Saddle Views Estate's shareholder is the Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand, a union that represents up to 300 Dunedin City Council staff, and dozens of other unionised workers at various workplaces in Dunedin.

The president of the union's executive, Invercargill City Council water treatment plant operator Nick Knight, yesterday said that he was unable to say anything about the issue, citing a union resolution that any media comment had to be cleared with the secretary before being made public.

The secretary was Mr Fisher, whom the executive employed as an official.

Mr Fisher criticised the "hazy, foggy, unpredictable" council that had not had issues with the quarry when its own company, Delta Utility Services, had the rights to quarry in the past.

Quarrying on Saddle Hill has been an issue since the removal of material began in the 1950s. Council staff started investigating quarrying activities last year, and the company was asked by the council to provide evidence to support claims it could continue quarrying in the protected landscape conservation area.

Mediation followed, but that ended with this week's announcement.

Responding to that, a press release from Mr Fisher yesterday said the company welcomed the fact "that its quarrying rights are going to be determined without doubt".

"It believes this should put an end to the comment and innuendo that the quarrying will not continue."

On the comments about compensation, Mr Fisher said that was a matter that was "in all the archival material" between parties in the past.

Asked what he had to say to people who were concerned about the future of the landform, Mr Fisher said those people should be concerned "about the council's handling of the opportunity the council created for themselves that they've now decided to go to court with.

"They should be questioning their councillors about the circumstances that have resulted from the council's decision to do what they've done.

"We've just followed what the council has dictated to us."

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday said Mr Fisher was referring in the press release to the possibility the council might buy the property.

Mr Cull did not agree there had ever been such an offer to the current council.

On the comments about quarrying "without restriction", Mr Cull said that just set out the company's position it had rights to do so, and he was not concerned by it.

But Saddle Hill Neighbours Group spokesman Colin Mackintosh described the release as dictatorial and biased, "which is to be expected".

"Talk about compensation clearly shows that their sole motivation is to make as much money as possible, without any regard for landscape values, social values or traditional Maori values."

Mr Fisher said the union had a policy of investing in areas where it had membership.

He was frustrated about his communications with the council over a long period.

"We've done nothing different than people have done for the last 100 years."

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/192193/saddle-hill-quarry-rhetoric-heats

Press Release 22 December 2011

Press Release 22 December 2011

Quarry owner Saddle View Estates Limited welcomes the fact that its quarrying rights are going to be determined beyond doubt. It believes this should put and end to the comment and innuendo that the quarry will not be continuing, noting that the DCC itself does not seriously challenge that some quarrying is lawful. It believes that it is relatively straightforward that it is operating under a consent and with existing use rights, and that the court hearing will vindicate this.

It has cooperated with the DCC in a responsible manner, as acknowledged by Cr Weatherall in the ODT article on 17 December 2011, while taking part in the mediation process. Realistically the question has always been whether the community valued the skyline sufficiently to compensate the owner for surrendering its rights.

Clearly, as on previous occasions, the Council has decided that it does not.

Saddle Views Estates Limited will continue its operations in a responsible manner until the court has confirmed its rights. It will seek confirmation from the Court that the hill can be quarried without restriction.

It notes that aside from the skyline issue the quarry is a valuable resource for the city, providing raw materials essential for maintenance, development and future job growth and a substantial public benefit in ensuring that such resource does not become subject to monopoly. The continuing strong demand for its high quality materials at affordable prices is evidence of the ongoing benefits that the quarry brings to the people of Dunedin and Mosgiel.

 

Calvin Fisher
for Saddle Views Estates Limited

Saddle Hill photos reveal quarry work

Saddle Hill photos reveal quarry work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Negotiations over the future of Dunedin landmark Saddle Hill appear to be coming to a head, as David Loughrey explains.


New photos of the Saddle Hill quarry at the centre of the controversy show its owners have so far stuck to a promise not to further cut into the hill's profile.

Despite concerns raised last week by opponents of mining on the hill, aerial photographs taken by the Otago Daily Times this week show no quarrying appears to have taken place on the upper slopes covered by a landscape conservation zoning, in the last 15 months.

Quarry owner Calvin Fisher's representative, Kim Taylor, last week refused permission to take photographs on the land, and would not give details of the operation.

Instead, the ODT took pictures from a helicopter, and compared them with similar pictures taken in August last year.

They show changes to what look like access ways near the top of the quarry, but Cr Colin Weatherall, who is heading the Environment Court mediation process for the council, said there were good reasons for that.

Because of the quarry's location on the prominent landmark, quarrying has attracted attention since the removal of material began in the 1950s.

Saddle Hill was named by Captain James Cook on his 1769 voyage to the Pacific.

Council staff began investigating quarrying activities on the hill last year, and Mr Fisher was asked by the council to provide evidence to support his belief he could continue quarrying in the protected landscape conservation area.

In August this year, the council said it had reached an agreement with Mr Fisher over what quarrying would take place while mediation was under way.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said this week an announcement on the long-running issue was expected in the next few days.

Recent concerns from nearby residents have included the appearance of a machine that was bigger than the usual machines at the quarry, and an apparent increase in material leaving the site.

While he could talk little about the mediation process under court rules, Cr Weatherall this week commented on the photographs from his knowledge of the operation.

He said the landscape conservation area covered only the upper area of the quarry.

After the Pike River mine disaster last year, inspections had occurred at the quarry, which resulted in the owners being required to "bench" or build what appeared to be roads near the top of the hill.

Cr Weatherall said that was to make sure rubble near the top could not collapse and fall on workers below.

The large bulldozer that residents were concerned about, (which can be seen at the bottom right of the most recent photo) was used for that work.

Cr Weatherall also said quarry owners were "maximising" what they took.

In the past the clay and stones had been separated, and the stones removed and sold.

Now, all the material could be sold and used, which was why more material was coming from the quarry.

"It looks to me, other than the safety adjustments that we know about, there have been no physical adjustments to the hill," Cr Weatherall said.

That was what had been agreed to, until the mediation process was finished.

 


The plan:
Saddle Hill Landscape Conservation Area (from Dunedin City Council district plan)*
- Includes the higher slopes of Saddle Hill.

Features and characteristics to be conserved
• The visual dominance of natural landform and other natural elements (such as remaining indigenous vegetation) over cultural or human-made landscape elements.
• The extent, integrity, coherence and natural character of the major natural elements such as landform, streams and areas of indigenous vegetation.
• The extent and quality of views from the principal public routes and viewpoints.
• The skyline generally defined by natural elements.

Principal threats to visual quality
• Excavation and quarrying: Removal of significant landform features by excavation and quarrying.

Other threats to visual quality
• Roads and tracks: Inappropriate siting, scale and design of roads and tracks such that they cut across the landform rather than follow it and become visually dominant features.

Quarries and other excavations:
• Inappropriate siting and scale of quarries and other excavations such that they become visually dominant focal points.

* CONDENSED


http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/191246/saddle-hill-quarrying-within-agreed-limits

Saddle Hill quarry 'contract' denied

Saddle Hill quarry 'contract' denied


Colin Weatherall                 Clare Curran


A Dunedin MP's concerns a company has won "a contract to take the top off"' Saddle Hill are wrong, a city councillor says.

But the claims, from Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran, have renewed tensions surrounding the quarry.

The quarry owner's representative, Kim Taylor, yesterday labelled opponents "a couple of stirrers", and said there was no public interest in its work.

He refused to allow the Otago Daily Times on to the site to photograph what was happening there, and would not provide details, saying he had been misrepresented in the past.

The situation follows a press release from Ms Curran which referred to "reports that a contract has been awarded to allow increased quarrying activity on Saddle Hill".

She said someone needed to deal with the situation, as an Environment Court mediation process under way was not working.

But Dunedin city councillor Colin Weatherall, who is heading the mediation process for the council, said there was no such contract, and Ms Curran had not even called him to see if that was the case before putting out her press release.

Because of the quarry's location on the prominent landmark, quarrying has attracted attention since the removal of material began in the 1950s.

Concern had regularly been raised by locals and, in March this year, a group including organiser Les Cleveland gathered hundreds of signatures to help save Saddle Hill from what they believed was destructive quarrying.

Council staff began investigating quarrying activities on the hill last year, and quarry owner Calvin Fisher was asked by the council to provide evidence to support his belief he could continue quarrying in the protected landscape conservation area.

In August this year, the council said it had reached an agreement with Mr Fisher over what quarrying would take place while mediation was under way.

But Ms Curran said she had received calls last week to alert her to a company having been awarded a contract for increased quarrying.

The need to protect the land form was "becoming increasingly urgent", she said.

"This is despite months of mediation in the Environment Court, a process which appears to have achieved nothing.

"Mediation obviously isn't working.

"It's time for the buck-passing to stop and for the Dunedin City Council, the Environment Court and the Environment Minister [Nick Smith] to step in to prevent further destruction."

Mr Cleveland yesterday said while he was not certain of what was happening at the quarry, he was concerned about the appearance of a machine that appeared "far too big" for the usual work that was done at the quarry.

He wanted local councils to investigate.

Asked about Ms Curran's suggestions of a contract, Cr Weatherall said he, too, had heard the rumour from three or four sources.

It appeared to involve a Roxburgh company that had a bulldozer at the site, and the rumour was that a company had been given "a contract to take the top off the hill".

"Clare's facts are not correct," Cr Weatherall said.

The bulldozer was leased to someone who worked at the site.

Cr Weatherall said Ms Curran had not spoken to either the quarry owner or himself in the past six weeks.

The court mediation was still under way, and while that was the case, there was an agreement to protect the skyline.

He had spoken to the quarry owners, and they intended to honour the agreement.

Of the mediation process, he said he could not reveal what was happening, other than to say there were three options on the table, and good faith mediation was continuing.

He could not give a timeframe for a solution, if it came, as there were "lots of complications", but the parties were working together to find a way to protect the landform, and he had confidence in the attitude of the owners.

Asked about residents' concerns about trucks regularly taking material from the quarry, he said the owners had an annual quantity they could extract and sell.

Material that was being taken did not affect the skyline.

"The rim of the hill has not been touched."

Ms Curran said it was not her job to ascertain whether there was a contract.

She was raising the issue because of concerns the situation was not being resolved, while the community group opposed to the quarry was "left more and more out on a limb".

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/189525/saddle-hill-quarry-contract-denied

Mediator for Saddle Hill dispute

Mediator for Saddle Hill dispute

Environment Court action involving the Dunedin City Council and Saddle Hill quarry owner Saddle Views Estates will go to mediation next week, following discussions between the two.

In April, the council lodged paperwork with the court seeking a declaration to clarify the legality of the Saddle Hill quarry, amid public concern quarrying activity was threatening permanent damage and destruction to Jaffrays Hill, the smaller of the two peaks of Saddle Hill.

Council senior planner John Sule said then the council had instructed its legal representative to write to the legal representative of quarry owner Saddle Views Estates, of which Calvin Fisher is the director, seeking an assurance it would not extend quarrying before the Environment Court date.

Yesterday, Mr Sule said a proposal for Environment Court mediation came from those negotiations.

The court had appointed a mediator, and the process would begin next Monday "to attempt to facilitate an outcome that is satisfactory to both parties".

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/161926/mediator-saddle-hill-dispute

Quarry concern spurs court bid

Quarry concern spurs court bid

The Dunedin City Council is attempting to speed up the Environment Court process to clarify the legality of a quarry operating on Saddle Hill, amid concerns from residents work on the site is intensifying.

Council senior planner John Sule said the council had instructed its legal representative to write to the legal representative of quarry owner Saddle Views Estates, of which Calvin Fisher is the director, seeking an assurance it would not start "hacking into a new area" before the Environment Court date.

Based on the response to the letter, the council would decide whether it needed to do any more.

The council last month lodged paperwork with the court seeking a declaration to clarify the legality of the quarry.

At a recent council public forum, Dr Colin Mackintosh, chairman of the Saddle Hill Neighbours Group, told the council of "concern and alarm at the current quarrying activity that is threatening to cause permanent damage and destruction to Jaffrays Hill", the smaller of the two peaks of Saddle Hill.

The group called on the council to "stand firm in fulfilling the provisions of its own district plan", by ensuring the quarry did not alter the outline of the hill, and to limit the quarry's operation to a level that would not threaten the visual impact of the hill.

Mr Sule said he was still waiting for a date for the issue to go before the court.

"We haven't heard anything," he said.

"We are considering pushing for an early hearing date, and requesting urgency."

If the company did more work at the quarry, the council would have to consider its options.

"At this point, we're keeping an eye on the situation and progressing the hearing schedule."

Council officers had been to the site to see what was happening, but there was nothing to suggest extra work was being done.

Mr Fisher could not be contacted and his legal representative, Mike O'Neill, said he could not respond without his client's instructions.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/158830/quarry-concern-spurs-court-bid

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