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The Around the Mountain Cycle Trail has received a high level of public interest from both New Zealand and overseas, with a total of 205 submissions received. The proposed trail from Walter Peak to Kingston via Mossburn, Lumsden, Athol, and Garston has received 65 submissions in support, 26 submissions supporting in principle, 109 submissions in opposition, and 5 submissions neutral.
"It's fair to say that the majority of the submissions supporting the trail in principle specifically oppose the part of the route that is proposed through the Upper Oreti River and would prefer the route to follow the Mararoa River," resource management manager Simon Moran said.
Those supporting the proposal have commented that they think it will improve access for the general public and be a great boost to Southland's economy including the townships which the trail passes through due to the tourism potential.
The issues raised in opposition relate to potential effects on the fishery including angling amenity, international fishery tourism, and the wilderness experience. The submissions have been summarised.
Independent hearing commissioner Denis Nugent has been appointed to decide on the application as Southland District Council is the applicant. Mr Nugent has had previous experience dealing with this type of proposal as he was the Commissioner on similar proposals for Alexandra and Roxburgh.
Mr Moran said resource management staff will now consider whether any further information is required from the applicant. It is expected that the hearing will be held in November and all parties will be notified of the hearing date at least 10 days before.