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SATURDAY, MARCH 1, 2014
Est. 1866 Phone 769
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Kowhitirangi Presbyterian church
WEST COAST FEATURE
e old goldmining ghost town of
Lyell is growing in popularity. e
Department of Conservation and
the New Zealand Transport Agency
recently improved the turn-off to
the camping area, which has lifted
its profile. In addition, the Old
Ghost Road cycle trail has already
started bringing in people. DOC
says camper and day visitor numbers
are now the best since records
e Department of Conservation
says it is making inroads in its
efforts to control crack willow
spreading in the Paroa lagoon
wetlands. DOC partnerships
director Jan Hania said aerial
spraying had been difficult because
of the proximity of houses.
However, this had been overcome
by the use of a new poison, which
was being applied to the lower
trunk surfaces using a backpack
sprayer. "Staff report very quick
uptake times which suggests
repeat treatment of the area will be
possible this summer to ensure all
crack willow is removed," Mr Hania
said in a report to the West Coast
Conser vation Board. e work was
undertaken with financial support
from the Friends of the Paroa-
Taramakau Coastal Area Trust, and
sponsorship from MWH. Annual
crack willow control around Lake
Brunner is also under way, with staff
applying herbicide from a boat to
kill sprouting branches.
e United Kingdom government
has issued an unreser ved apology
for sending a demand to attend
intensive job-focused activity to a
woman who had been in a coma for
two months. Disabilities Minister
Mike Penning said things had "gone
wrong" in the case of Sheila Holt,
who was told to attend sessions
and workshops to prepare for work.
Miss Holt, who is bipolar, had been
receiving income support --- but was
sectioned under the Mental Health
Act last month after becoming
terrified when the payments were
removed, her family claim. e
47-year-old was sent the letter after
being in hospital for weeks: "Dear
Ms Holt, you are now approaching
the end of the first stage of your
intensive job focused activity ..."
--- Daily Mail
(Supplied by Nelson Weather Service) Safety
Kiwi Rail has been given strict
timeframes for getting the Otira
Tunnel up to code and could face
a suspension of passenger ser vices
if they are not met.
By January 2017, Kiwi Rail must
have installed a formed walkway,
tunnel lighting and have all coal
Last year, the State-owned rail
operator was forced to unload
passengers either side of the tunnel
after serious concerns arose over
the possibility of a catastrophic
event if a fire were to break out
inside the 8km-long tunnel.
e tunnel was closed to
passengers in July and only
reopened in November once fire
suppression equipment had been
installed on all locomotives.
Four days prior to the reopening,
on November 16, rail regulator the
New Zealand Transport Agency
wrote to Kiwi Rail outlining strict
deadlines for further work.
By March, it has to have trained
the Tranz Alpine locomotive
engineers on procedure changes.
By April they must have
completed a design report for
walkway lighting installation,
with that installed by December
2015, and the tender process
for covering coal wagons must
be started in May and wagons
covered by January 2016.
A formed walkway must be
installed by January the following
In addition to these actions,
Kiwi Rail is required to undertake
various investigative actions
to identify any further safety
enhancements. By June it must
have completed a report on fire
detection in the tunnel, a report
on camera technology in train
control, and firefighting water
NZTA access and use general
manager Celia Patrick stressed the
importance of sticking to these
dates: "It is of utmost importance
that the above agreed actions and
timeframes are adhered to".
"Failure to meet these
enforcement action from the
transport agency, which may
include (but not limited to) the
imposition of conditions on
the Kiwi Rail licence, including
movements through the Otira
Chief mines inspector Tony
Forster e-mailed Kiwi Rail on
September 10 and applauded the
proactive approach being taken by
However, he reinforced the
importance of lighting in the
tunnel, in addition to other
"Lighting would make a massive
difference and in my opinion is a
key safety measure," Mr Forster
A risk assessment report from
September rated the likelihood
that passengers would panic
and be injured in the event of
a walking evacuation from the
tunnel as "almost certain".
It also rated the consequences
of a train fire inside the tunnel as
A West Coast Regional Council
initiative to give more weight to job
creation on the Coast has generated
300 submissions, a lot of praise --- and
steep criticism of the council for being
in bed with the miners .
e previous council proposed
changing the Regional Policy
Statement, a guiding document for
staff, so that they have to consider
jobs as well as the environment when
processing resource consents.
It has just released the 300
submissions. Many are supportive, a
fair number are not, while others used
the process to put for ward a wish
list for the Coast, backing everything
from the Haast-Hollyford road to less
cow excrement on the roads.
Forest and Bird said the current
West Coast economic lull was
caused by a mining downturn, and
the council was not addressing this.
e group noted that Bathurst
Resources gained consent for its
Denniston open-cast coalmine under
the current rules.
e West Coast branch said there
was no better time for businesses
once dependent on mining to move to
Christchurch for the rebuild.
e Buller Conser vation Group said
the council s discussion document
seemed to have been motivated by a
paper produced by people involved in
the mining sector.
e Department of Conser vation
said it could not comment due to
its workload, while the West Coast
Environment Network warned
that changing the Regional Policy
Statement could lead to more
However, many were supportive,
from all manner of people in all walks
of life --- businesses, stay at home
mums and professional women.
Westpower said the bid to provide
better balance was commendable,
National Party list MP Chris
Auchinvole was supportive, and
Fulton Hogan wanted explicit
recognition of aggregate extraction.
Westland Mayor Mike Havill
congratulated the regional council
on its "focus and direction", although
another person said the council should
"stick to its knitting".
Fish and Game said it was
concerned about a "real or perceived
conflict of interest" as the council
was the statutory agency in charge of
habitat protection, while now moving
in a direction of developing that same
It noted that less than 4% of consents
went to an appeal or hearing.
Many used the opportunity to plug
for the southern road link, as well as
an international airport in Hokitika,
while most conser vation groups noted
there was no mention of climate
change, and no plan to deal with
rising sea levels or the coal emissions
that caused global warming.
Some of the stranger suggestions
Cut back overgrown bush in
Make sure Reefton observes either
Westland, or Buller Anniversary Day
--- "not both".
Look at the issue of customary
whitebaiting, and stands.
Greenies should put up a
$1 million bond and pay compensation
for resource consents delays.
Regional council praised, criticised for proposed policy change
Company formed for Hollyford road
Former Westland mayor Durham
Havill has formed a private company to
pursue the long-held dream for a Haast-
Hollyford toll road.
Haast Hollyford Highway Ltd was
formally established this week.
Mr Havill was due to sign papers
yesterday to transfer the intellectual
property from the council-owned
Westland District Property Ltd, from
which he last year resigned as a director
to pursue the road project.
He said his focus now was to get
the proposed road link back on maps,
claiming that the road reserve had been
illegally removed in 1976. e company
would then apply for resource consent,
which was expected to cost $5 million.
A $1m success fee had been negotiated
to be paid by the contractors and
investors, he said.
e project so far has the backing
of JCP Partners investors, Chinese
company Xinjan Bintuan Construction,
and Blakely Construction.
Mr Havill --- who for now is the
sole director and shareholder of Haast
Hollyford Highway Ltd --- said he
would bring other organisations and
people on board.
If successful, the company would
later reimburse the Westland District
Council owned property company for
its expenditure on the road project.
He said a lot of work had been done,
and costs were now "coming to my
" e finance is there, but we do need
resource consent. at s estimated at
$5m. Once it s there, we get reimbursed."
His backers have estimated the
construction costs at $220m, to be
funded by user tolls to private operators.
e road would be handed back to
the Westland and Southland district
councils after 30 years.
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Art in the Park committee member Terry Salt sets up his stall for the annual art event, which runs today and tomorrow with 42 stalls.
e Department of Conservation
has taken a two-thirds funding cut for
capital projects on the West Coast in the
current financial year.
e total allocation was $1.19 million.
Concerns are also held about how it
will fund Conservation Minister Nick
Smith s Battle for the Birds --- an extra
and massive 1080 poison drop planned
for this winter in response to a beech tree
fruiting. Dr Smith has said it will have to
be funded from the existing budget.
Last year, DOC West Coast received
$3.6m for capital works, in 2012 it was
$2.6m and $5.36m in 2011.
However, the department says other
projects may still be approved, pushing
up the $1.1m allocated this year. It also
says that in future work will be prioritised
at icon sites that will boost tourism.
Green Party conser vation spokes-
woman Eugenie Sage said they were
concerned how DOC could fund the
upcoming pest control, as well as resource
it after undergoing staff restructuring
e reduced capital spend also raised
questions over "whether DOC has
enough money to maintain them
(tourism infrastructure) properly,"
Ms Sage said. "Is DOC being further
e capital spend figures include the
replacement of the Ollies and Saggy
bridges on the Fox River walk, the cavern
staircase near Punakaiki, and resurfacing
the Snowy Battery Track and Colls Dam
e proposed loop walk in the
Hokitika Gorge, complete with a second
suspension bridge at a cost of $813,000,
has been parked up for now and will be
resubmitted if the department can show
a commitment from a third party to
invest, and that it would increase visitor
DOC spending curtailed on Coast
Kiwi Rail given deadline
Art for art's sake
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