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Opposition to Lake Wanaka Lodge Plans

Environmental groups are setting their sights on an American billionaire’s plan to build a luxury lodge on the shores of Lake Wanaka.

Public bids ended last week on plans by billionaire US entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel to build a luxury resort on a 193-hectare property owned for six years by him and her husband in Damper Bay, about 10 minutes drive from Wanaka.

Of the six submissions received by Queenstown Lake District Council, three oppose the development and the remaining three request changes to the proposal.

Those opposed to the development are the Upper Clutha Environmental Society (UCES); the Longview Environmental Trust and John May; and the Environmental Defense Society.

The Otago Regional Council, Upper Clutha Tracks Trust and Guardians of Lake Wanaka are the other three authors.

UCES secretary Julian Haworth said “large-scale” development was inappropriate in an area designated as Outstanding Natural Landscape and an area already recognized as under development pressure.

The long expanse of buildings, plus up to 36,800 cubic meters of earthwork over 7.4 ha, would not meet the proposed district plan rules governing negative visual effects and cumulative development, he said.

Mr Haworth acknowledged the couple’s plans to undertake ecological and biodiversity improvements and said there was also potential for economic gains for the district if the proposed tourism unit buildings were used in the manner described in Requirement.

However, there had been no offer of open space commitment, or any other type of protection, to prevent future development of the site, so there was no guarantee that the landscaped character would be retained, a he declared.

In its submission, the Environmental Defense Society said that although efforts have been made to integrate the buildings into the landscape, the proposal would introduce built elements into the landscape, thereby reducing the level of natural and rural character of the site.

If the natural values ​​and openness of the site were not protected, the application should be rejected on the grounds that it was inappropriate subdivision, land use and development, according to the submission. .

In his application to the Longview Environmental Trust, John May, a resident of Roys Peninsula, whose property is adjacent to Mr. Thiel’s, said the proposed lodge would be highly visible from Lake Wanaka, the Glendhu Bay trail. and the Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road and would also be very apparent. at night because of the lighting.

The significant nature of the proposal would significantly harm the natural character and landscape of the area and affect those who used Lake Wanaka and the Glendhu Bay Trail, which was part of the nationally significant Te Araroa Trail, said May.

In its brief, the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust requested that direct access to Damper Bay be provided, but that it was unlikely that such access would be offered by applicants due to privacy concerns.

Instead, a realignment of the existing Glendhu Bay runway would rather be a good option for environmental compensation without the associated privacy concerns.

The Otago Regional Council and the Lake Wanaka Guardians have called for action to stop any further deterioration in the water quality of Lake Wanaka, especially in Damper Bay.

In their submission, the Guardians stated that the proposed improvements to the streams and wetlands were likely to improve the quality of runoff from the site to the lake. However, basic measurements and continuous monitoring of water quality and biodiversity had to be undertaken prior to the project.

A date has not yet been set for a hearing on the application.


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