CLUTHA RIVER TRAIL DELAYED
Planning work for the Clutha River Trail will be delayed, following a decision by the Central Lakes Trust to decline funding for community consultation.
The Central Lakes Trust supported the early stages of the Clutha Mata-Au River Parkway project, which aims to establish both a river-length park and river-length trail along the 338km Clutha River corridor. The Ministry for the Environment through the Sustainable Management Fund, and New Zealand Lotteries, provided further funding to complete a series of foundation studies.
The next phase of the project is the implementation of the river-length Trail Establishment Plan, which requires a full and open process of consultation in order to define trail routes and accommodate the needs of the river communities. We need to talk with over 2000 landowners along the river corridor. Whatever concerns they may have must be fully addressed. It is particularly important to satisfy the needs of farmers as we see them as a significant asset to the Clutha River corridor.
Community groups working on track sections in the Upper Clutha and Roxburgh areas are making steady progress. These groups are members of the Clutha Mata-Au River Parkway Group, and it is our hope that more community groups will come forward and join us as development of the Clutha River Trail continues. It is important that the people who know the river corridor best are part of this process.
We all know that the Clutha River Trail will bring huge economic benefits to the river communities, and that many people are keen for trail construction to begin. This is certainly getting closer, and in the meantime we have a clear obligation to include the river communities in the planning work. After all, the Clutha River Trail will belong to these communities, and they will participate in its management.
The project has already faced delays, having been obliged to take on a watchdog role opposing resource consent applications that threaten the river corridor. The current funding delay will see river-length consultation work for the Clutha River Trail set back at least six months. Despite this, we have made excellent progress this year and can look forward to significant developments in 2008.