River Park sale agreed
Saturday 11 April 2015
Otago Daily Times
Contact Energy and the Red Bridge River Park Trust have agreed on sale conditions for a parcel of Luggate land sought by the charitable trust to develop a community river park.
The resolution follows more than a year of discussions between long-term tenant of the land and trustee Lewis Verduyn-Cassels and Contact over the proposed sale of the 0.4ha property.
Mr Verduyn-Cassels said the trust was grateful for the support of the Wanaka Community Board and the many donors who had made the project possible.
As the original proposal for the river park included neighbouring land that was sold to other individuals, the trust would look at revising the project plan to reflect the changed ownership.
As part of the agreed sale process, the trust will pay a portion of the market sale price of the land up front and further settlement is due within the next five years.
Contact is also finalising arrangements to gift a separate 1.9ha block of land next to the Luggate Bridge to the local community, most probably through the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Contact has been progressively selling parcels of land it owns in the Clutha region in recent years, following an announcement in 2012 that it was no longer going ahead with a proposed hydro generation development in the area.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
River Park sale agreed
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Contact and River Park Trust pleased to reach agreement
Thursday 9 April 2015
Contact and trustees for The Red Bridge River Park Trust this week have agreed sale conditions for a parcel of Luggate land sought by the charitable Trust to develop a community river park involving native fauna and flora restoration and freshwater ecology. The positive resolution follows over a year of discussions between long term tenant of the land and trustee Lewis Verduyn-Cassels and Contact over the proposed sale of the 0.4 ha property.
“We’re very pleased to reach an agreement that enables both parties to move forward positively, with the Trust able to now explore its plans to develop the community river park,” says Contact’s Generation & Development Project Manager, Neil Gillespie.
“We are grateful to the many people behind the scenes who have contributed their support to this agreement. The Wanaka Community Board, and numerous donors, have all made this project possible,” said River Park Trustee, Lewis Verduyn-Cassels.”
“As the original proposal for the river park included adjacent land that was sold to other individuals, the Trustees will be looking at revising the project plan to reflect the changed ownership. We literally have decades of work ahead of us as we progressively restore and enhance the Red Bridge area.”
As part of the agreed sale process the Trust will pay a portion of the market sale price of the land up front, with further settlement due within the next five years. Separate to the sale to the Trust, Contact is in the process of finalising arrangements to gift a 1.9 ha block of land adjacent to the Luggate Bridge to the local community, most likely through the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Contact has been progressively selling parcels of land it owns in the Clutha region in recent years, following an announcement in 2012 that it was no longer progressing a proposed Hydo generation development in the area.
About Red Bridge River Park Trust
The purpose of the Red Bridge River Park Trust is to create and manage a river park and native recovery centre on riverside land at the Luggate Red Bridge, on the Clutha Mata-Au River, for the benefit of the community in perpetuity.
Friday, January 30, 2015
'Good progress' in talks on riverside land
By Lucy Ibbotson, on Friday 30 January 2015
Otago Daily Times
An agreement over the future of a piece of riverside land near Luggate wanted for a conservation park is still several weeks away.
Negotiations have been ongoing for almost a year between Contact Energy, the owners of a 0.4ha site next to the Clutha River at the Luggate Red Bridge, and Lewis Verduyn-Cassels, who established the Red Bridge River Park Trust to help realise his vision for a community conservation area on the land.
The trust was given several extended deadlines to raise $300,000 to buy the land, before entering into private discussions with Contact towards the end of last year.
Contact's trading, development and geothermal resources project manager, Neil Gillespie, said this week the power company was ''still talking'' with Mr Verduyn-Cassels.
''We're making good progress.
''In the next three to four weeks we should be closer to knowing where we're at.''
Friday, November 21, 2014
Cycleway talks with landowners start
By Mark Price, on Friday 21 November 2014
Otago Daily Times
Discussions are under way between the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust and about 20 landowners along the Clutha River over the possible route for a cycleway linking Wanaka and Cromwell.
Trustee Tom Rowley told the Otago Daily Times this week the trust had received funding from the Central Lakes Trust to carry out a feasibility study into extending by about 45km the existing river track, which ends at Luggate at the Wanaka end and Lowburn at the Cromwell end.
''At the moment we are trying to meet as many of the landowners as we can and talk it through with them. That's a bit of an involved process, really.''
Mr Rowley said discussions were going ''pretty well''.
''For the most part, we are getting a very good reception from the landowners but we have got a few to work through yet.''
Mr Rowley said some landowners already had a plan for the cycleway through their properties when the company carrying out the feasibility study arrived.
''I've been warning [landowners] that we are wanting to meet with them and they have had time to think about it. So, some of them have been outstanding really.''
Mr Rowley said the track would be fenced where necessary.
The intention was to ensure the track required as little maintenance as possible.
''It's a big factor in what we are trying to do.''
He expected it would take ''a lot of money'' to build the track and it would probably be built in stages.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Purchase 'good result' despite shock cost
By Marjorie Cook, on Wednesday 1 October 2014
The Southland Times
After lengthy secret negotiations, the Department of Conservation yesterday announced the Nature Heritage Fund had spent $935,000 on 164ha of Contact Energy land near the Luggate Red Bridge to add to the public conservation estate.
Emeritus professor of botany Sir Alan Mark, of Dunedin, welcomed the purchase as significant but questioned whether taxpayers should have had to pay that much.
"The sum involved of $935,000 sounds a lot to me.
"That must be current land valuations . . .
"The end result is good but the means still leaves a lot to be required," Mark said.
Many other people signed an open letter to Contact Energy recently, suggesting that, among other things, it could discount the purchase price because of the substantial profits the company had made from electricity developments on the Clutha River.
The announcement was still pleasing and he was surprised it had not been made by the minister of conservation before the election.
"It is certainly quite a significant area and there are no doubts it has very high conservation values," he said.
DOC's Wanaka conservation services manager Chris Sydney said getting the land was a great outcome for conservation.
"The Upper Clutha Basin is recognised as an outstanding natural landscape with biodiversity features of national, regional and local importance," Sydney said.
The Nature Heritage Fund purchase was for some but not all of the properties Contact Energy decided in 2012 it no longer required for dam building. Some sites have significant historical or recreational value while others have important biodiversity values.
Sydney said the combined values of the land meant they were considered to be of national importance.
The properties provided river access and included significant river terraces and dryland vegetation.
Eight threatened and uncommon plant species and several historical features were contained on the land.
The sites also had high strategic value next to marginal strips along the Clutha/ Mata-Au River, Sydney said.
The Nature Heritage Fund is a contestable ministerial fund that seeks to protect New Zealand ecosystems.
It has received 1352 applications since its inception in 1990, protecting 340,780 hectares of indigenous ecosystems.
It has spent $158.45 million so far (about $465 per hectare).
Source: 2013 DOC annual report
Where: 13km east of Wanaka, on the true left of the Clutha River.
What is protected: goldmining archaeological sites, dry-land terrace vegetation, and a "national critical" ecosystem.
Endangered plants include: Annual forget-me-not (Myosotis brevis, status – nationally vulnerable), mousetail (Myosurus minimus ssp novae-zelandiae, status – nationally endangered), Olearia lineata (status – declining), and Cushion pimelea (Pimelea sericeovillosa ssp pulvinaris, status – declining).
Friday, August 8, 2014
Otago Daily Times
Cromwell could become ''the hub'' of new cycle trail networks if a proposed Luggate to Cromwell trail is successful, the trail promoters say.
The Upper Clutha Tracks Trust was given a grant of $25,000 by the Central Lakes Trust this week for a feasibility study into the proposed 40km trail.
Tracks trustee and treasurer John Wellington said the proposed trail would connect the Upper Clutha trail network to Cromwell and tie in with the wider Central Otago cycle trail network.
It would link with the proposed Cromwell to Gibbston trail and the proposed Cromwell to Clyde one as well, he said.
''Bit by bit, various groups have taken up the challenge of forming trails along the Clutha River and we're working our way towards Cromwell,'' Mr Wellington said.
When the proposed trails were completed, Cromwell would be the ''hub'' of the new trail network, he said.
The Luggate to Cromwell trail was mostly within the Central Otago district, on the true right of the Clutha River, and he believed the feasibility study would show it was ''do-able''.
''Then it will be a matter of getting other parties on side, talking to adjoining landowners and starting fundraising.''
The aim would be to have the trail on public land where possible, but some of the route would cross private land, so the trust would have to canvass landowners and negotiate with them.
Mr Wellington said the feasibility study could be completed by November and would include estimates of the trail cost.
''It's a longer trail than we've built previously, but it won't have much in the way of structures, so that will make it cheaper, but we really don't even have a ballpark figure at the moment.''
Unlike the trails on the ''Great Rides'' national cycle network, part-funded by the Government, this trail would have a ''lower scale finish'' and was likely to be 1.5m wide, narrower than trails on the national network, which were 2.5m to 3m wide. That would make it cheaper to develop.
''As soon as the feasibility study gives the green light, we'd look at getting it under way, maybe doing it in stages if we need to,'' Mr Wellington said.
Among the other grants by the Central Lakes Trust in its latest round of funding were $1500 for the Wanaka Preschool Early Childhood Centre, for two additional shade sails, and $4750 to the Drybread Cemetery Trust for a new concrete burial strip for headstones and the creation of 40 new graves. The Alexandra Musical Society was also granted a guarantee against loss of $7500 to enable it to stage the musical All Shook Up next month.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Otago Daily Times
Chairwoman of the newly formed Upper Clutha Conservation Taskforce, Megan Williams, this week told the Otago Daily Times the task force was the result of a public meeting in May held as part of the region's Shaping our Future process.
It was attended by various conservation groups ''just to try and get some vision and strategy around what people were doing and encourage more collaboration'', Ms Williams said.
Data collected from the meeting was being developed into the task force's terms of reference, and a ''draft vision'' was being formed using existing material as a starting point.
''We're just trying to think long-term and lead the groups to develop a shared vision,'' Ms Williams said.
Butterfields Wetlands next to the Hawea River, near Albert Town, had three different conservation groups working on it, ''which haven't actually agreed on what they want the place to look like in the future''.
One group was planting trees and another was planning to build a track.
There were also five groups working in the Matukituki Valley and ''they haven't really been collaborating''.
''So I believe since the meeting in May a group of them have got together ... It's just encouraging a little bit more collaboration there to get more done.''
Long term, everyone agreed on the need for ''pristine water and pristine air'', Ms Williams said.
But the question was how to ensure those things were achieved.
Asked about the prospect of another 1400 woodburners being installed in the proposed Northlake subdivision of Wanaka, Ms Williams said the task force would ''try and stay out of the political process at that level and really try to stay big-picture on conservation issues''.
''All we are looking at doing is leading a discussion with the Upper Clutha groups to develop a shared vision so that everyone can work together.''
It was hoped to have a conservation strategy prepared before the end of the year.
Already it seemed clear more water, soil and air monitoring needed to be undertaken.
''Whether that's done by volunteers or whether we do that by lobbying the local authorities - that's the type of action we will be hoping for.''
Data was needed to establish ''base lines, so that we know where we are at'', Ms Williams said.
The task force would not be taking over the roles of other conservation groups but would be complementing what they did.
Ms Williams, originally from Dunedin, has a background in tourism, and teaches sustainable tourism at the Queenstown Resort College.
The members of the task force are: John Wellington, Robbie Lawton, Anne Steven, Andrew Penniket, Calum MacLeod, Natalie Astin, Alexa Forbes and representatives from the Lake Wanaka Guardians and Department of Conservation.